Boston Camerata to Stage Its First Digital Opera: ‘Dido and Aeneas, An Opera for Distanced Lovers’

By Chris Ruel

Boston Camerata is marking the 40th anniversary year of the release of its landmark period-instrument recording of Purcell/Tate’s “Dido and Aeneas” with a new digital production of the opera set to stream from November 14-29.

The cast is led by mezzo-soprano Tahanee Aluwihare as Dido and baritone Luke Scott as Aeneas.

Bookending the performance is a presentation by musicologist Ellen T. Harris, author of “Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas,” Second Edition, and a post-performance conversation with Artistic Director Anne Azéma, and production designer Peter Torpey.

The production features the lead vocalists and chamber orchestra in a staged performance with an edited virtual choir and silent images, lending the production a cinematic feel. Rounding out the principal cast is soprano Camila Parias as Dido’s sister, Belinda; and tenor Jordan Weatherston Pitts as the Sorcerer. Assisting the production are students from Longy School of Music of Bard College and the Harvard Choral Fellows under the direction of Edward Elwyn Jones.

Based on Virgil’s “Aeneid,” “Dido and Aeneas” is considered Purcell’s first true opera. The libretto recounts the tale of Dido, Queen of Carthage’s love for the shipwrecked Trojan warrior, Aeneas. Dido’s love turns to despair when the hero abandons her.

The Boston Camerata occupies a unique place in the densely populated universe of European and American early music ensembles. Camerata’s distinguished rank stems partly from its longevity: founded in 1954, when the field of endeavor was in its infancy, as an adjunct to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts’ musical instruments collection, Camerata is now one of the longest-lived groups to be functioning, and vigorously so, up to the present day.

Two new recordings appeared in 2019: “Treasures of Devotion” presents music from the early Renaissance and “Free America! Songs of Resistance and Rebellion” produced by Harmonia Mundi.