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LA DIDONE@St. Ann's

 
 

Love Conquers All! 

   

 

  

 

Omnia Vincit Amor; Et Nos Cedamus Amori.  Love conquers all; let us, too, surrender to love… said Virgil, and we surrendered willingly to this brilliantly staged and completely mad production of La Didone the other night.

This strangely-worked piece of opera-theatre with a crazy streak that runs through it is ambitious, but somehow manages to succeed where it overreaches.  The Wooster Group's La Didone is a marvelous simultaneous juxtapositioning of Cavalli's La Didone (a 17th century opera based on the Aeneid, but with a happy ending - Dido does not kill herself over Aeneas but instead marries Jarbas, a neighboring king) and Planet of the Vampires (Terrore nello spazio) an Italian science fiction film from the 60s replete with space zombies.  That they are Italian in origin is perhaps the only thing that unites the two…and this production becomes an essay in cross-pollination, overlap, and side-by-side synthesis.  In this futuristic metallic meshing, lines and scenes entangle, interweave and knit together, the words to both opera and film scrolling side-by-side on screens above the players.  It wasn't difficult at all for an audience used to modern multitasking to keep track of everything going on - and the movie playing out on screens and stage served as contrast and foil, and seemed only to add to the opera. 

Virgil, who sang of arms and the man, is in fact the man who holds the production together - if this work rests on the Cavalli opera, then the opera owes everything to him…and the beautiful Hai-Ting Chinn with the marvelous voice is the woman who centers the chaos - she was perfect as the vulnerable yet strong Dido, giving the production depth and nuance as she strutted around in her marvelous costume (which we must admit we wanted for ourselves - dramatic space-age collar and glittering gleam of leather softened by an asymmetric gathered violet skirt of some net-like material). 

The production has its rough edges, but is so successful in its ambition that all we can say is - go down to Dumbo and take in the spectacle…it runs just through April 26. 

 

 
See: The La Didone, St. Ann's Warehouse, Dumbo, Brooklyn 

 

Tags:  theatre  broadway

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