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& Aeterna

Music by: Jake Landau

Libretto by: Emily Garber

Conceived by: Andrea DelGiudice


& Aeterna was composed to pair with Purcell's Dido & Aeneas

Duration: Dido & Aeneas & Aeterna: 1 hr 45 mins; & Aeterna is under 1 hr


Commissioned and premiered by The Narnia Festival, 2022

 

After her mother’s death and father’s abandonment, Aeterna has been raised as Carthage’s new queen by the city’s Goddess protector, Juno. When news comes of Aeneas having finally founded Rome—the city he chose over Dido—Aeterna, guided by Juno, sets out to avenge her mother and change the fate of her home. For if she kills Aeneas, then Rome will never rise to destroy Carthage. But Aeterna has spent a

lifetime yearning to connect with the parents she has never known, and trying to understand her own place in a world of gods and destiny. As she nears Aeneas on her long, dangerous journey, she must choose: either forgive her father, or kill him.

This work grapples with powerful themes of parenthood, legacy, and the costs of becoming “great.”


FORCES


Singers: From & Aeterna:

Juno, goddess of women, protector of Carthage - Soprano

Aeterna, daughter of Dido and Aeneas, the young queen of Carthage - Mezzo-soprano/Belter

Camilla, warrior queen of the Latins - Contralto


From Dido & Aeneas:

The Sorceress, scorned by Dido, now seeking revenge - Soprano

Belinda, Dido’s handmaiden and confidant - Soprano or Mezzo-soprano

Dido, Queen of Carthage - Soprano or Mezzo-soprano

Aeneas, former Trojan soldier shipwrecked on Carthage - Baritone


Plus SATB CHORUS including Sailors, Witches, Spirits, Carthaginians, and Aeneas’s Guards (fighting roles, non-singing)


Orchestra:

Violin I

Violin II

Viola

Cello

Contrabass

Percussion (one player)

Harpsichord and piano (one player)

Basso Continuo



Project Statement

The story of Dido and Aeneas, first penned by the Roman poet Virgil, is one of the most iconic tragic love stories in the Western canon. A millennium and a half later, William Henry Purcell and Nahum Tate’s adaptation of the story would become one of the most famous English-language operas ever composed. Both are considered timeless, and yet both speak to very specific political circumstances of their times. Virgil’s Aeneid was written to legitimize the rule of Augustus, Rome’s first Emperor, and help reassure the

public of the new regime’s stability, history, and strength. Tate’s story, premiered during the new regime of William and Mary, likewise legitimizes their reign but builds on Virgil’s tale by adding an evil sorceress to demonstrate how easily foreign mysticism (in this case, the Catholic Church) could destroy them. Both use themes of destiny and greatness to propel Aeneas as the embodiment of this “greatness,” and women

to represent everything holding him back. This opera seeks to re-examine those themes by shifting the perspective from that of Aeneas and his men to the women they leave behind, and explore the other side of that history.

This shift begins with Dido. Instead of succumbing to grief, she dies in childbirth, leaving behind her daughter with Aeneas, Aeterna. Sixteen years later, Aeterna is coming into her own power as a ruler and her own great destiny. She has been raised as the queen of Carthage by the Goddess Juno, and only she can save it, for as Aeneas’s daughter, she is the only god or mortal able to get close enough to kill him and prevent Rome’s rise to power. But she also struggles to understand her legacy without her parents, and

yearns to connect with Aeneas, despite knowing of his abandonment of her mother. Over her journey to Aeneas (not knowing if she will defy Juno’s wishes, or fulfill them), Aeterna encounters many of the women Aeneas fought or loved. Each encounter explores different aspects of the costs of uplifting “great men” and challenges Aeterna’s relationship with Juno, who raised her from infancy.

This work strives to breathe life into female characters who have spent too long as either villains or victims.


 

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