Giovanni Francesco Busenello (libretto), Francesco Cavalli (music), additional text: Terrore nello spazio (Planet of the Vampires), a film by Mario Bava, 1965 and Queen of Outer Space, a film by Edward Bernds, 1958, La Didone / Redcat-Roy and Edna Disney-CalArts Theater, Los Angeles / the performance I saw was on June 14, 2009
Known for its innovative retellings of major dramas and events (Hamlet, The Hairy Ape, The Emperor Jones, etc.) The Wooster Group has moved into even more challenging territory with their newest extravaganza, La Didone, a retelling, in operatic form, of Francesco Cavalli's 1641 opera of the Carthagian Queen Dido and her new lover, Aeneas.
The worlds for both sets of explorers suddenly shifts, as the remaining members of the Argos crew senses strange beings around them who they cannot see, and Aeneas is drawn into a boar hunt—presented almost as a frenzied sexual prelude—during which he and Dido retire to a cave to make love.
Similarly, Dido hopes by conquering the heart of Aeneas to lure him into Carthage society. But the gods call him back to Italy, and Dido is left alone with a broken heart. In the Aeneid she commits suicide, but in Cavalli's version, she regains her sanity, marrying the nearby King Jarbas, who has long been in love with her.
Los Angeles, June 18, 2009
Reprinted from Green Integer Blog (June 2009).