Opera Opens, 'A Breath of Fresh Air' for UNF Music; the Production of 'Dido & Aeneas' Took Months of Planning
Brandenburg, Susan D., The Florida Times Union
Byline: SUSAN D. BRANDENBURG
High-pitched nervous laughter, last-minute costume adjustments, throaty bursts of song, hugs and high-fives ... the atmosphere backstage at the University of North Florida's Robinson Theater was charged with excitement.
It was opening night of the UNF Opera Ensemble's first-ever fully staged opera, Dido & Aeneas by Henry Purcell.
"Make sure it's high enough on my forehead so I can 'emote' with my eyebrows," warned Angelique Perretta (Queen Dido), smiling as Melody Fallon (Servant Girl) secured her bejeweled crown with two-sided tape.
"I can't believe I have to wear lipstick," moaned Luke Hopper (Sailor) as he and Jennifer Wuerffel (Belinda) put final touches on makeup.
"Just a little more right ... there!" declared Cara Suzanne Tasher (conductor), adding a touch more color to the lips of Emily Sharrett (Mercury).
Accompanied by members of UNF's String Ensemble, Dance Troupe and Chamber Singers, the Opera Ensemble presented a colorful, action-packed one-hour performance of the tragic tale of Dido, Queen of Carthage, and her ill-fated romance with the Trojan prince, Aeneas.
Conducted by Tasher, UNF's new director of choral activities and assistant professor of voice, and directed by Krzysztof Biernacki, head of UNF's Voice Department and director of the Opera Ensemble, the opera was the culmination of months of rehearsal and community collaboration.
Southsider Fallon, a 21-year old voice major, called Biernacki and Tasher "a breath of fresh air" for UNF's Music Department. …