The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Students breathe life into old art form on NE

By Jamil Oakford/ editor-in-chief

The chorus rehearses an intense scene on NE Campus. Dido and Aeneas is a 45-minute opera that tells the story of the queen of Carthage and a former Trojan prince.Photos by Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian
The chorus rehearses an intense scene on NE Campus. Dido and Aeneas is a 45-minute opera that tells the story of the queen of Carthage and a former Trojan prince.
Photos by Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian

Greek tragedy told through the medium of opera will grace the stage on NE Campus Sept. 9-10.

Dido and Aeneas, an opera written completely in English that is only 45 minutes long, has been in the works since the tail end of the spring semester. The operatic production is also run completely by students.

“Auditions were toward the end of the spring semester,” student director Hayden Evans said. “Then we emailed back and forth during the summer. And now, it’s finally coming together, and I’m seeing it all come to life.”

NE music instructor Stan Paschal said the decision to have an opera stemmed from the need for music students to gain experience.

“Our music students don’t have an opportunity to perform on stage,” he said.

As performers, the experience of singing in front of an audience is key to their development and their confidence, Paschal said.

“I want to provide an opportunity for them to feel what it’s like to be on stage,” he said.

This opera tells the fated love story of the title characters Dido, the queen of Carthage, and Aeneas, a former prince. The story takes place after the Trojan War.

For Morgan Gardner, who plays Dido, being a part of the production has been exciting.

NE student Ariana Stephens pours emotion into her role as the sorceress. She said exploring her role has been one of the best parts of preparing for the production.
NE student Ariana Stephens pours emotion into her role as the sorceress. She said exploring her role has been one of the best parts of preparing for the production.

“I’ve never been in an actual opera,” she said. “I’ve always sung arias, but I’ve never participated in an entire opera.”

Gardner said she finds the process of putting the production together both fascinating and inspiring. This is a part of the process that Evans enjoys too.

“The most rewarding part is seeing my vision coming to life, bringing this opera to life,” he said.

While the cast members say developing the production has been fun to be a part of, it’s also taken a lot of hard work.

“Singing opera has been the most challenging part of this,” cast member Coy Rubalcaba said.

Rubalcaba, who plays Aeneas, said he’s just not used to this type of singing.

Meanwhile for cast members who have unnamed characters, it’s been a mix of difficult and intriguing.

“We were encouraged to find a backstory to help us explore our characters,” cast member Joshua Timmons said.

Cast member Ebony Wesley stares at Dido as she sings her aria about her feelings toward Aeneas. This is the first time in decades NE Campus has staged an opera.
Cast member Ebony Wesley stares at Dido as she sings her aria about her feelings toward Aeneas. This is the first time in decades NE Campus has staged an opera.

He portrays an unnamed, scholarly character who travels to Carthage, hoping for a better life.

“It’s been challenging to create motivation, but it’s helping me,” he said.

For cast member Ariana Stephens, who plays the sorceress, exploring her character has been a treat.

“Just getting to delve into this character has been great,” she said. “From the beginning, I had a strong idea of who she was, and it was great to know that Hayden was on the same page.”

Stephens said her character brings a darker edge to the opera, something more demonic and supernatural.

The cast hopes people walk away from the opera with a newfound appreciation for an old art form.

“I want it to invoke a curiosity in opera,” Timmons said. “It’s underappreciated.”

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