The Eastern New Mexico University Department of Music performed a double bill of one-act operas on Friday, Feb. 28 and Saturday, Feb. 29 in Buchanan Hall located in the music building.
The first one-act opera performed was “Dido and Aeneas,” which was written by Henry Purcell in 1680. This is an epic love story that ends in an unforsaken tragedy. It was the tragic love story of Prince Troy and Queen of Carthage. The Department of Music wanted to retell the story through a modern structure. In order for them to do this, they took the original story plot lines and aspects and updated it to set in a modern high school. The update looks on the original opera took on sensitive topics in today’s society, such as cyberbullying, peer pressure and even teen suicide. Although updated to fit this 2020 approach, the story line was told just the same.
Maya Muñoz, who played the main character, Dido, explained that a one-act opera is a short script that has three mini acts in it to complete the whole story. It still includes the rising action, climax and resolution to provide the story’s full effect. “Unlike most operas during the Romantic Era that can last up to three hours, this one is unique because it only lasts an hour,” she said.
She also mentioned that “Dido and Aeneas” is known as a Baroque opera, having been composed during the Baroque Era. This era was characterized by combining dramatic work with musical scores. “Usually, the composer of this work, he usually does plays that include music, but this one is considered an opera because it’s singing throughout the whole story line, and there is never spoken dialogue,” Muñoz said.
The second opera of the night was “Le Docteur Miracle,” which was written by George Bizet in the 1950s. This opera had both sung and spoken dialogue throughout. As the singing potion of the opera was done in French, the Department of Music had set up projectors so that there were subtitles for the audience to read along during the performance. The spoken dialogue was done in English to make it easier for the audience members to understand the opera. This opera was about the character Laurette, who wanted to deceive her controlling father, Podestat, so she could be with the one she loved. This opera is considered a comedy. This opera had two different casts who performed on Friday and Saturday respectively.
According to Muñoz, both operas were difficult and could be considered graduate level, but members of all casts gave it their all and worked really hard to make every show great. She mentioned that everyone in all three casts had rehearsals almost every day since the beginning of the semester to prepare for the showings. The Department of Music put on two shows that ended with standing ovations from the audience.