Dido and Aeneas brings Purcell’s famous opera to life with a live chamber orchestra, vocalists and dancers under Mark Morris’s baton.
American choreographer Mark Morris loves music. In fact, there are arguably no other “dancermakers” working today who have so successfully used their musical intellect to illuminate, transform, and even expand the greatness of each masterwork they’ve embraced. Landmark works by Mozart, Handel, Haydn, Vivaldi, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, and more have captured Morris’s imagination and been given revelatory treatment with his singular vision, sprawling energy, and powerful expressions of both the human body and the human condition. Now, in the remounting of Dido and Aeneas— Virgil’s famous tale of Aeneas’s affair with Dido, the Queen of Carthage, en route to founding Rome— Morris has elevated British composer Henry Purcell’s famous 1688 opera into mythic love-story territory. This extraordinary production—which includes one of the greatest opera arias of all time, the haunting “Dido’s Lament”—brings the full baroque opera to life with a live chamber orchestra and vocalists under Morris’s baton, while the dancers reveal both the humor and the tragedy of the tale with Morris’s signature visual flair. Dido originally premiered in 1989 during Morris’s legendary three-year post at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, in Brussels, Belgium—a period that established him as a larger-than-life creative force capable of drawing new insights from seemingly familiar works. Today, nearly four decades after his debut, Mark Morris remains one of America’s leading artists and storytellers—and Dido and Aeneas one of his most spellbinding works.
Mark Morris was born on August 29, 1956, in Seattle, Washington, where he studied with Verla Flowers and Perry Brunson. In the early years of his career, he performed with the companies of Lar Lubovitch, Hannah Kahn, Laura Dean, Eliot Feld, and the Koleda Balkan Dance Ensemble. He formed the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) in 1980 and has since created close to 150 works for the company. From 1988 to 1991, he was Director of Dance at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, the national opera house of Belgium. In 1990, he founded the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Much in demand as a ballet choreographer, Morris has created 18 ballets since 1986 and his work is in the repertory of companies worldwide.
Noted for musicality, he has been described as “undeviating in his devotion to music” (The New Yorker). He began conducting performances for MMDG in 2006 and has since conducted at The International Festival of Arts and Ideas, Lincoln Center, and Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Recently, he served as Music Director for the 2013 Ojai Music Festival. Morris also works extensively in opera, directing and choreographing productions for the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, English National Opera and The Royal Opera, Covent Garden, among others.
In 1991, he was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation and has received 11 honorary doctorates to date. He has taught at the University of Washington, Princeton University, and Tanglewood Music Center. He is the subject of a biography, Mark Morris, by Joan Acocella (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), and Marlowe & Company published a volume of photographs and critical essays entitled Mark Morris’ L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato: A Celebration.
Morris is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and has served as an Advisory Board Member for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. He has received the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society, the Benjamin Franklin Laureate Prize for Creativity, the Cal Performances Award of Distinction in the Performing Arts, and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s Gift of Music Award.
Don’t forget! Join us for Intermission Club! Our Intermission Club event will be in full-swing prior to the Mark Morris Dance Group’s performance. Join us in Hovde Hall 45 minutes prior to showtime, and at intermission, for light refreshments and a cash bar! Friends who give $250 or more annually are invited to join us with their show guests. Want to join or upgrade to receive this benefit? Call the Convocations Development Associate at (765) 494-5840.
A member of the Mark Morris Dance Group artistic team will discuss Dido and Aeneas and the company’s aesthetic.