Audiences celebrate Shepherd School’s opera double bill of ‘Dido and Aeneas’ and ‘The Rape of Lucretia’

Dido and Aeneas

The idea forced Joshua Winograde out of bed in the middle of the night last summer.

“I literally woke up at about 3 a.m. and said, ‘How unbelievable would it be to spend an Act I with the queen of Carthage, who is tricked by sorcery into suicide when her lover flees to Rome, and then come back after intermission and make the journey 300 miles away to Rome in roughly the same time period to see another tragedy befall another iconic character of the repertoire?” said the director of opera for Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.

Dido and Aeneas
Photos by Lynn Lane
Dido and Aeneas

Winograde had been considering a production that would incorporate as many of the Shepherd School’s talented students as possible, which he helped execute for crowds April 5 and 7. The ambitious double bill featured two operatic masterpieces: “Dido and Aeneas” composed by Henry Purcell and “The Rape of Lucretia” by Benjamin Britten.

The two operas may belong to different epochs, but they share a profound resonance with contemporary audiences. Both explore the complexities of love, betrayal and the consequences of human choices, offering poignant insights into the human condition.

Dido and AeneasDido and Aeneas

Under the direction of R.B. Schlather, the productions came to life in the Brockman Hall for Opera’s Morrison Theater with a depth and authenticity that captivated audiences. His approach, grounded in understanding the thematic through lines of the works and their relevance to modern society, infused the performances with a sense of immediacy and emotional depth.

The success of the double bill was also a testament to the talent of the Shepherd School’s singers and musicians. The preprofessional artists involved brought iconic characters to life with nuance and sensitivity, drawing audiences into their world with every note and gesture.

The Rape of LucretiaThe Rape of Lucretia

Behind the scenes, the production came together through the power of collaboration and meticulous planning. From the coordination of singers and orchestra by conductor and Shepherd School alumnus Benjamin Manis to the creation of stunning costumes and sets, every aspect of the performance was carefully crafted.

Learn about upcoming Shepherd School events here.

The Rape of LucretiaThe Rape of Lucretia