Dido and Aenaeas

TONY COOPER St Mary's Church, South Creake


St Mary's Church, South Creake

Purcell's great masterpiece is not enough to fill out a whole evening, so John Frederick Lampe's Pyramus & Thisbe (in an edition by David Owen Norris) made up a companion piece in what turned out to be a very entertaining double-bill. But with a difference.

The difference was that it was cleverly incorporated in D&A when Dido entertains Aeneas at her court in Carthage. Supporting the troupe of players were members of the Trojan crew - they could have come straight from Burnham Overy Staithe.

It was an innovative piece of staging by director Jennifer Hamilton to integrate the two works while a Belgian-born Nicolas Achten - a master of period instruments, particularly the theorbo - returned to the Creakes for the first time as music director. He presided over a memorable performance.

All the singers and musicians attended The Yorke Trust's summer opera course coached by music/drama teachers of excellent record. The end result admirably showed. The standard of singing and performance (let alone the staging and costume design) would make some of our estab-lished opera companies look up.

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The star role of Dido was effortlessly sung by 21-year-old Naomi O'Connell who looked the part. In her big number, When I Am Laid to Rest, she showed such maturity in her voice that it was joyful to listen to. The calm dignity of this farewell has few equals and the touching chorus that ended the opera was sung with emotion with members of the chorus spaciously divided round the church.

South Creake is more than making a name for itself.

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