Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Arts/Entertainment

January 9, 2014

An operatic milestone

Purcell piece celebrates Phillips' 40 years of coeducation

Andover Dance Group, Phillips Academy’s student dance ensemble, together with the Fidelio Society, a select a cappella choir, and several student musicians will present Henry Purcell’s tragic opera, “Dido and Aeneas,” this weekend at Tang Theatre on campus, 180 Main St., Andover.

The opera is based on Virgil’s “Aeneid” and was originally performed in 1688 at the Josias Priest’s girls school in London.

Andover’s production will be performed by members of the Fidelio Society, directed by Christopher Walter, and the Andover Dance Group, directed by Judith Wombwell.

The original choreography by Wombwell places the singers among the dancers and uses the Andover/Exeter rivalry as a replacement for Carthage and Troy.

The title roles of Dido and Aeneas will be played by singers Caroline Sambuco and Adam Brody and dancers Emily Ewing and Graham Johns, all of whom are seniors.

The supporting female role of Belinda will be sung by junior Rebecca Cheng and danced by senior Sophia Landay. The sorceress who intervenes in the happy union of the couple will appear in the form of the Exeter mascot and guest appearances will be made by faculty member Kevin Graber and members of the Phillips Academy varsity baseball team.

The production of “Dido and Aeneas” celebrates Phillips Academy’s year-long recognition of the 40th anniversary of coeducation on campus, highlighting programs that came up the hill from Abbot Academy and continue to thrive at PA today. The dance program and Fidelio are two such prominent programs.

Day students performing in “Dido and Aeneas” include Abriana Mayer, Elizabeth McGonagle, Sarah Cronin, Erica Nork, Vivian Liu, Katie Graber, Justine Wang, Hannah Beaudoin, Alexandra Decker, Michaela Barczak, Cheng, Ewing, Landay and Brody.

The production is presented by the Phillips Academy Department of Theatre and Dance in conjunction with the Department of Music.

Performances are Friday, Jan. 10, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 11, at 8 p.m. Both shows are open to the public. Tickets are $5 and may be reserved through the box office at 978-749-4433.

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