NWSA Opera Theatre Ensemble Explores the Psyche Through Dido and Aeneas

Decorative illustration of faces
“Multiple Personalities.” Artwork by Brazilian artist, Paulo Zerbato.

New World School of the Arts Opera Theatre Ensemble production of Dido and Aeneas, by English Baroque composer Henry Purcell with a libretto by Nahum Tate, will be presented by a dozen NWSA college voice students and fifteen high school students singing in the chorus, under the direction of NWSA voice and opera faculty member, Dr. Megan Barrera, New World School of the Arts alum. The Opera Orchestra will be conducted by Dr. Huynjee Chung.
About the upcoming operatic offering, Dr Barrera highlights, “I felt inspired to modernize this production after reading Nina-Mari Grobler’s critical essay on Diagnosing Vergil’s Dido: A Psychological Perspective. Having researched more on historical clinical psychology, I decided to set our show in the late 1950s, where various methods were used to relieve mental health disorders including electroconvulsive therapy, hypnosis therapy, and lobotomy.”
Composed no later than 1688, Dido and Aeneas is considered one of Purcell’s foremost theatrical works and his only true opera, as well as one of the earliest known English operas. The composition is based on Nahum Tate’s allegorical play Brutus of Alba, or The Enchanted Lovers (1678) and it recounts the joy of marriage between two monarchs, ending in tragedy because of evil spirits at play. Dido, the Queen of Carthage is overwhelmed with despair when Aeneas, the Trojan hero abandons her. A woman lost in her thoughts; Dido takes us on a journey throughout the opera as her multiple personalities come to life through forms of therapy. Rather than seeing a traditional Greek chorus respond to Dido’s actions throughout the show, we see a chorus of Dido’s voices in her head with all action occurring inside a psych ward office.
New World School of the Arts’ specialized opera/voice concentration is unique and rare among Bachelor of Music degree programs in the nation. The curriculum offers undergraduate music students the opportunity to perform mainstage leading roles in fully staged opera productions and opera scenes, accompanied by stellar piano collaborators and the music division’s opera orchestra. The conservatory style education at NWSA supports high level one-on-one instruction with experienced artist faculty members who cover bel-canto technique, lyric diction, acting, and so much more, for the enhancement of students’ vocal artistry and training to become successful classically trained singer/actors. Information about New World School of the Arts music division at 305-237-3622.

A Florida center of excellence in the visual and performing arts, New World School of the Arts is an educational partnership of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami Dade College, and University of Florida. NWSA provides a comprehensive program of artistic, creative, and academic development through a curriculum that reflects our community and the rich multicultural state of Florida. Through our partners NWSA confers the high school diploma, Associate of Arts degree, and Bachelor of Fine Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees in programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Dance, Music, Theater and Art & Design. NWSA’s rigorous eight-year curriculum and conservatory-style teaching has empowered students in our community and our nation to become leaders in the arts for more than three decades.

Information about New World School of the Arts at 305-237-3135 or nwsa.mdc.edu.


April 22; 7:30 PM
April 23; 2:00 PM

Miami-Dade College North Campus
William and Joan Lehman Theatre (Pawley Creative Arts Center)
11380 NW 27 Avenue, Miami FL 33167

General admission $10 / Students and seniors $5