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Fringe Opera: Review

Dido and Aeneas

Dido and Aeneas

About Turn Theatre, TheSpake@Venue 45

Propelling Purcell's celebrated baroque opera into the 20th century, About Turn theatre company set the composer's 1688 score nearly 500 years in the future, positioning it in a Second World War hospital.

Attired in a 1940s twin-set complete with glamorous fur wrap, mezzo-soprano Rachael Cox gave an engaging interpretation of the role of Dido with a beautifully rich tone and impeccable, clear diction.

Opposite her, tenor Tim Reynolds's war-wounded Aeneas was a hero wrought by emotion and anguish.

The inherently evil sorceress was given a wonderfully loathsome portrayal by mezzo-soprano Victoria Pym, as she commanded her macabre witches to her malevolent bidding.

In an astute, modern take on this centuries-old piece, the production team made ingenious use of their limited space and resources.

In a surprising final twist Aeneas, instead of being carried away by the Gods, is shot by Dido and Cox performs her final aria, When I am Laid in Earth, in a white wedding gown soaked with blood before turning the gun on herself.

Despite their small number, the six-person chorus were a classy ensemble, singing with a well-balanced blend.

More manpower might have been welcome among the instrumentalists though, as the trio of keyboard, 'cello and violin sounded a little sparse at times.

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