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<<<  <<  -- 3 --  Patric Standford    STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

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Although Purcell's Dido and Aeneas could not have been in greater musical contrast, its vitality and melancholy were captured beautifully throughout, from the sailors who rolled in from their sea wreck, one after another, as Belinda sings of Empire growing, pleasures flowing, and the chorus claim Grief should never approach the fair -- which of course it does!

Clarissa Meek as The Sorceress with one of the dancers in the Opera North production of 'Dido and Aeneas'. Photo © 2007 Bill Cooper
Clarissa Meek as The Sorceress with one of the dancers in the Opera North production of 'Dido and Aeneas'. Photo © 2007 Bill Cooper

Belinda was sung by Amy Freston (one of the nieces in Peter Grimes last year) and the sadly small part of Aeneas was Adam Green making his Opera North début in good form. Clarissa Meek made a splendidly fearful Sorceress, surrounded by witches and the same group of dancers, and counter-tenor James Laing was the spirit of the Sorceress in Act II. Eyjólfur Eyjólfsson is a tenor who has just graduated from the London Guildhall School of Music, though earlier in Iceland a flautist, and was making a worthy début here with the part of the Sailor which begins Act III.

Adam Green as Aeneas and Susan Bickley as Dido. Photo © 2007 Bill Cooper
Adam Green as Aeneas and Susan Bickley as Dido. Photo © 2007 Bill Cooper

But it was Dido's generous role, sung so superbly by Susan Bickley with which we were left breathless, and not least, as might be expected, by her exquisite final lament. And above the simple effective set the clouds changed constantly across the huge moon. Nicholas Kok, who is clearly at home with a wide range of repertoire, conducted both works with sympathetic efficiency.

Copyright © 15 May 2007 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK

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