Opera Scotland

Dido and Aeneas 2016Kellie Consort

Read more about the opera Dido and Aeneas

The Kellie Consort are a pre-professional Baroque Ensemble (Director Tom Wilkinson) based in Scotland. For this special event they toured the country performing Purcell's Dido and Aeneas in a far-flung group of Scotland's most attractive churches.

There was a consort of six instrumentalists - string quartet, guitar and harpsichord, with nine vocalists. The chorus of eight also took the solo roles as required, leaving only the Dido with no choral duties.

At the final performance in St Andrews, the celebrated baroque authority Robert Hollingworth took over directing the musical side. Whether or not his direction differed significantly from that of Tom Wilkinson hardly seemed relevant, given that there was absolutely no sense of  unease at any time. The beautiful performance space, St Salvator's Chapel, was the perfect venue for such a performance. It is a lofty space, but with a clear acoustic, just the slight resonance helping to give just enough amplification.

The performance had a delightful freshness, where so many performances of the this great masterpiece can end up overdoing things. Billed as a concert performance, visual interest was maintained at all times by means of simple movements, with soloists emerging from the choral line-up; the happy couple did a few elegant dance steps; the sorcerer climbed on to a chair to dominate his attendant witches. It was all very simple and effective.

The singing was altogether excellent. Ana Pousa's clear soprano soared beautifully through all Belinda's appearances. Michael Longden somehow managed to make Aeneas a far more interesting and sympathetic figure than usual. Beth Taylor was the one chorister to take two solo roles as attendant lady and witch, equally accomplished, though clearly differentiated, as were the two witches. The other solo roles, Sorcerer, Spirit and Sailor, were taken strongly by the remaining male members of the ensemble, all singing with confidence and clarity. The Dido of Aimee Toshney was dominant, as she should be, a beautifully smooth, lyrical voice, with a nice dramatic bite when required.

The musical edition was very pleasing, with the small scale of the performance making clear all sorts of detail that can be missed when larger forces are used. A couple of musical interludes were introduced to excellent effect. After the first act we heard music by Purcell's contemporary, Pelham Humfrey, from 'O Lord my God'. Between the second and third acts they played Purcell's marvellously atmospheric Pavane and Chaconne in G minor, which led beautifully into the final sequence.

Production Cast

Conductor

Tom Wilkinson (Jul 20, 21, 23, 24)

Robert Hollingworth (Jul 26)

Performance DatesDido and Aeneas 2016

Map List

St John's Episcopal Cathedral, Oban | Oban, Argyll

20 Jul, 19.30

Iona Abbey, Iona | Iona

21 Jul, 15.00

St Bride's Episcopal Cathedral, Glasgow | Glasgow

23 Jul, 19.30

Old St Paul's Church, Edinburgh | Edinburgh

24 Jul, 19.30

St Salvator's Chapel | St Andrews

26 Jul, 19.30

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