Students around campus may be hearing a slight hum in the air. A chorus chanted in the caf, an aria hummed in the halls, or a trill of a piano. Don’t be alarmed, these beautiful tunes are not coming from the bell tower of Zwemer. Rather, the source of this operatic music can be found in our own theater.
The Heritage Singers, a selective choir here at Northwestern, is putting on an opera. It is tradition for this choir to perform an opera on a four-year rotation. This year, they are performing the opera Dido and Aeneas, written by Henry Purcell. The students in the choir have been preparing for the opera since the beginning of the school year, making this performance many months in the making.
Senior, Katie Struck, plays the role of Dido, the Queen of Carthage. In the role of Aeneas, Josiah Sandstrom depicts a heroic, albiet slightly cocky, Trojan Prince. Upon meeting, Aeneas quickly begins to convince Dido of his love for her. With some helpful support from her friend, Belinda, played by Chelsea Thurm, Dido succumbs to Aeneas’s charm, and they join together. Though once the couple joins together, they are quickly troubled by a scheming sorceress and her witches, played by Alisson Sjaarda, Olivia Lott, and Alissa Hugen. With the workings of evil fighting against them, Dido and Aeneas are challenged to see if their love prevails.
The story of Dido and Aeneas recounts a tail of love, woe, scheming and loss. All the story’s twists and turns are told through beautiful choruses and amazing solos from the choir. The music of the show leads the audience through the story in an interesting way. This alone calls for a great story, but throw a choir being tasked to play pirates and semi-gremlin-like creatures into the mix and this opera gets a lot more exciting.
Along with the excitement of seeing your fellow students pretending to be drunken sailors, this opera also provides many amazing visuals. Grace Spencer, an alumna and current admissions counselor of Northwestern, directed this show. Within the show, she included many eye-catching effects and moments that will leave the audience in awe. Along with beautiful lighting and interesting set design, Spencer tells this impactful story of love in a new, fascinating way.
Other notable individuals who brought this performance together include Dr. Thomas Holm, the choir director, as well as Mr. Michael Pekel, the director currently filling in for Dr. Holm while he is on sabbatical. As well as the actors already mentioned, the rest of the choir will be supporting them on the stage as a background chorus.
Audiences will be able to see this opera performed on Friday, Jan. 27 and Saturday, Jan. 28 at 7:30 in the Proscenium theater. If you’re in the mood to hear some wonderful music and see a visually beautiful show, consider stopping by the theater to see Dido and Aeneas.