By Jessica Braveman Columnist
Hofstra Opera Theater Presents: “Dido and Aeneas” and “L’Ivrogne Corrigé (The Reformed Drunk.)”
Every spring, the first week of the semester, the Playhouse is bustling with musicians, frantically running around. Tech week, as it’s referred to, is the final week of preparation before a show, usually filled with last minute changes and multiple run-throughs. And last week was no exception.
Every year the Music Department sponsors one of its biggest events of the year — the Opera.
Hofstra Opera Theater performed “Dido and Aeneas” and “L’Ivrogne Corrigé” on Friday, Jan. 31-Sunday, Feb. 3 in the John Cranford Adams Playhouse.
Under the direction of Isabel Milenski and Conductor Adam Glaser, Hofstra Opera Theater put on a wonderful performance.
Each show was divided into two halves: the performance of “Dido and Aeneas,” a short intermission, and the performance of “L’Ivrogne Corrigé.”
Operas are often thought of for being long or drawn out, but use of two shorter shows kept the audience engaged for the entirety of each show.
“Dido and Aeneas,” by Henry Purcell, is a dramatic love story based on Book IV of Virgil’s The Aeneid. The opera follows the story of Dido, Queen of Carthage, and her love for Aeneas, Prince of Troy, who eventual abandons her, leaving the Queen in despair.
The title roles are played by Chelsea Laggan and Joe Brigandi on Friday and Sunday, and Christina Russo and Alex Lavoie on Saturday.
“L’Ivrogne Corrigé,” by Christoph Willibald Glück, is comedic opera telling the story of a drunkard’s desire to marry off his niece to his drinking buddy, and the hesitance he receives from his family. The main roles were played by Sean Kelly, Deanna Grunenberg, Jackie Bakewell, Ian O’Malley and Alex Lavoie on Friday and Sunday, and by Anthony DiTaranto, Elizabeth Sarian, Sophia Strawser, O’Malley and Christian Kas on Saturday.
Both shows were brilliantly entertaining, with each cast bringing slightly different elements to the operas. “Dido and Aeneas,” the more serious of the two operas was characterized by its dazzling vocals and elegant choreography, while “L’Ivrogne Corrigé” used fake, stereotypical French accents and clumsy movements to send the audience into hysterical laughter.
Milenski took the minimalistic route when designing the show; the minimal use of props allowed the acting to stand out, and enhance it where needed.
“Dido and Aeneas” used only color changing lights hanging from the ceiling, and a platform that took on many roles throughout the performance. The lights helped to set the scenery, changing color to reflect the mood of the scene — glowing a mellow yellow as the character frolicked in the gardens, but turning an eerie green when the sorceress took the stage.
“L’Ivrogne Corrigé” used only one set, a simplistic bar scene, moving only a platform when necessary.
Both operas were extremely well done. They were simple, yet sophisticated, and clearly told the stories in a way that ensure that everyone in the audience understood what was going on.
Hofstra Opera Theater managed to turn abstract set ideas and intricate story lines into easy to understand shows, that could make anyone into a fan of opera.