* Notes *
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra continued a run of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas in Berkeley last night, along with a full program of other works of this composer. The performance set up was different this time, with the orchestra on stage behind the singers. The acoustics are better in this venue, First Congregational Church, than in Herbst Theatre, and the principals were never overwhelmed. The overall effect was scintillating, the orchestra was clear and the chorale's timing was perfect. Cyndia Sieden (Belinda, First Witch) again sounded lovely, even though her voice is not as hefty Céline Ricci's. Ricci (Second Lady, Second Witch) reined in her acting. Brian Thorsett sang his two roles (Spirit in the likeness of Mercury, First Sailor) with vigor.
Jill Grove gave a consistent performance of the Sorceress, and was appropriately comic, though also a bit frightening. William Berger portrayed Aeneas with strength, his voice is warm and pretty. Of course, Susan Graham was magnificent as Dido. Her last aria, the famous "When I am laid in Earth," was tranfixing in both its beauty and sorrow.
* Tattling *
There was quite a lot of flipping of pages in programs, whispering during the music, and noise from velcro, zippers, and wrappers. People even had to be hushed during Susan Graham's first notes.