by Paula Citron
Toronto Masque Theatre under Larry Beckwith mounts interesting programs. Its latest show is an inspired joining of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with the new opera Aeneas and Dido by composer James Rolfe and librettist André Alexis.
Both operas look at the same story – the love affair and Aeneas’ betrayal of that love. They also use the same vocal types, small baroque ensemble, and chorus. It is a winning combination.
Rolfe’s opera contains his usual trademark attractive arioso rather than melodic music, and his always interesting orchestration. He verges on the discordant, but only for emotional emphasis. Alexis has written a very sophisticated libretto with psychological tinges. In fact, his book gives subtext to the Purcell/Nahum Tate opera.
With the very talented baritone Alexander Dobson as Aeneas, the always wonderful Monica Whicher as Dido, and mezzo-soprano Vicki St. Pierre as the villain, this program is a must for opera lovers.
Toronto Masque Theatre’s double bill continues on Fri. and Sat.
From the Young Centre, I’m Paula Citron, arts reviewer for CLASSICAL 96.3 FM.