Monday, April 29, 2024

English Opera ‘Dido and Aeneas’ to be performed May 4 in Morristown

Dido and Aeneas
by Henry Purcell
WHEN: Saturday, May 4, 7:00 PM
St. Mary’s Abbey of Morristown
Advance prices are $30 for general admission and $50 for reserved orchestra seating. Online sales end on May 4 at 12:00 PM, after which time tickets can be purchased at the door for $40 and $60. Tickets for all students up to college senior are entirely free, whether online or at the door. Tickets and more information can be found at

A musical merger between the Somerset Hills Chorus of Music in the Somerset Hills (MISH) and the Trenton-based LOTUS Chorale is bound to generate an electric performance of Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, one of the first English operas ever written.

Purcell (1659-1695) was a composer from the Baroque period of music. He and his librettist, Nahum Tate, based Dido and Aeneas on Book IV of the Aeneid by the ancient Roman poet Virgil.

Stephen Sands, MISH’s Artistic Director, will conduct the combined ensemble. The roles of Dido and the Sorceress will both be sung by mezzo-soprano Emily Skilling, a South Carolina District winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Aeneas will be sung by baritone soloist Christopher Herbert, a professor at William Paterson University where he leads the Voice program. He will also assist in semi-staging the cast for May 4 after recently directing a fully-staged production of Dido and Aeneas at William Paterson.

Soprano Kristin Sands will sing the role of Dido’s handmaiden, Belinda. Alicia Brozovich, soprano and director of the LOTUS Chorale, will sing the roles of Second Witch and Second Woman. Another LOTUS soprano, Margaret Bergmark-Williams, will sing the role of the Spirit and the First Witch.

The cast and chorus will be accompanied by one of NYC’s premier early-music ensembles, the Sebastians, a 24-member orchestra that performs on Baroque-period instruments.

In addition to the musical artistry that will be on display, one of LOTUS’ artists-in-residence, the Trenton-based Chee Bravo, has created a dynamic visual hallmark for the production. As a backdrop to the performance, a 20-foot wide banner will be hung depicting imagery that invokes the three acts of the opera.

This concert is made possible by funds from the Somerset County Cultural & Heritage Commission, a partner of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

The Somerset Hills Chorus (SHC) was developed to help all those who love to sing become better musicians in a supportive yet challenging environment. Open to anyone aged 14 and up, with or without experience, their model enables local amateur singers to perform extraordinary repertoire alongside more seasoned professionals in fine venues within and around the Somerset Hills region of New Jersey. Led by B, the Chorus has given a number of concerts throughout the years, including the Vivaldi Gloria; two major works by Handel – Semele and Messiah; a centenary concert of works by Benjamin Britten; a jazz concert of works by George Shearing; the Fauré Requiem; Bach’s St. John Passion, as well as his Magnificat; Mozart’s Requiem; Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy; Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana; Beethoven’s 9th Symphony; and James Whitbourn’s Annelies.

Made of over 70 intergenerational singers, The LOTUS Chorale is a program of The LOTUS Project of Trenton, Inc., a 501(c)3 not-for-profit performing arts organization whose mission is to craft immersive musical experiences in which we can encounter the world with new eyes and a renewed sense of wonder. The Chorale debuted at the Patriots Theater at the War Memorial (Trenton) in November 2023 for Stay. Together. A Vigil for Veterans. The concert highlighted veteran mental health, featuring community stories and original artwork from Frontline Arts for over 500 audience members. The Chorale is conducted by Alicia N. Brozovich, Artistic Director, and Josh Wilson, Assistant Conductor.