Vocal Majors Perform Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Medium, Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas

Little Silver, NJ -   The Red Bank Regional (RBR) Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) Vocal Majors will perform a pair of operas-- Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Medium, and Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas presented consecutively on Tuesday, May 1, and Wednesday, May 2. All performances begin at 7PM in the Red Bank Regional High Theatre located at 101 Ridge Road, Little Silver, NJ. Tickets are $10 and $5 for students and senior citizens. Tickets may be purchased at the door or by calling 732-842-8000, ext. 227. Large groups are welcome.

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Pictured - Katherine Robinson of Shrewsbury portraying Belinda looks on as Dido, portrayed by Evangeline Athanasiou, Red Bank, confronts Aeneas, played by Patrick Martini of Union Beach, in Henry Purcell’s Opera Dido and Aeneas,. The Opera is one of a pair of operas RBR’s VPA presents it is first full scale operatic production. Miss Athanasiou is recognized as the state’s top operatic high school singer.

Starring as Dido in Dido and Aeneas is New Jersey Governor School Opera winner and top New Jersey high school operatic singer Evangeline Athanasiou of Red Bank. Miss Athanasiou has won many other accolades and scholarships. She will be attending the prestigious Boston Conservatory of Music where she will continue to study and perform her craft. Rounding out the cast in Dido Aeneas are: Patrick Martini, Union Beach; Katherine Robinson, Shrewsbury; and Shurmila Dhar, Little Silver.  Staring in The Medium are: Erin Murphy, Millstone, Madelyn Monoghan, Little Silver; Christopher Dubrow, Shrewsbury; Lauren Staub, Avon; Vincent Martini, Union Beach; Gabriella Concepcion, Hazlet.

The pair of operas represents the first full scale operatic production presented by the RBR VPA.

Opera director and VPA teacher Kristopher Zook comments, “This is an ambitious project for high school singers, and for some the first opera they have ever attempted, but our talented students are up to the task.”

Mr. Zook wanted something new to stretch his students’ abilities. The vocal majors are a part of the acclaimed RBR Academy of Visual & Performing Arts, and are no stranger to classical singing or opera.

He explains, “We do a tremendous cross-section of musical genres and languages over the high school career of our students.  Operatic repertoire that is accessible to young voices is a part of our curriculum. Until now, we have performed them in recital or in isolated scenes.”

The productions are the culmination of a year-long thematic unit that has included a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Opera, as well as guest artists who work professionally in classical voice.

These two one-act shows were selected for several reasons: The 1689 Henry Purcell opera was the first opera written in English, and is a manageable one-hour long instead of the standard opera length of two or three hours. It is also a tragic love story that resonates well with teenagers. The Medium is a similar length, but composed in 1946, effectively giving audiences the running time of a full show, but bookends of musical styles.

Additionally, the two pieces fit perfectly on the heels of the recent school musical, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum because their tragic plots balance the levity of that production. Additionally, this same group of students will be offering a choral concert on Thursday, May 24 entitled “Comedy and Tragedy.” In this concert they will perform the P.D.Q. Bach cantata, Knock, Knock, P.D.Q. Bach Oratorio, Oedipus Tex, and John Rutter’s Requiem