DIDO reloaded (2013)

Comissioned by Òpera de Butxaca i Nova Creació (OBNC).
Chamber Opera: soprano, mezzo, clarinet / bass clarinet, cello & electronics. 
Promo trailer

Music: Raquel García Tomás (part I), Octavi Rumbau (part II), Xavier Bonfill (part III), Joan Magrané (part IV).
Libretto: Cristina Cordero, after Nahum Tate.  
Musical director: Joan Magrané (2013) / Francesc Prat (2014)
Stage director: Jordi Pérez Solé
DIDO: María Hinojosa
BELINDA: Anna Alàs
Clarinet / Bass Clarinet: Víctor de la Rosa
Cello: Cèlia Torres
Electronics: by each composer, when applicable.
Produced by Òpera de Butxaca i Nova Creació (OBNC). 

20131023: (premiere) Reial Acadèmia de Medicina, Barcelona
20131025: Sala Berlanga, Madrid
20141126-30: Teatre Lliure, Barcelona

In 2013, OBNC (Òpera de Butxaca i Nova Creació) asked four young catalan composers (Raquel García-Tomás, Octavi Rumbau, Xavier Bonfill and Joan Magrané) to revisit the story of Dido and Æneas. Keeping in mind Virgil's original myth, the four composers took the music of Purcell and the accompaning libretto by Tate as a starting point. Each composer would cover one out of four equally lasting parts / scenes. Dido would be played by soprano María Hinojosa, while mezzosoprano Anna Alàs would be her helper Belinda. Both of them would double as the witches that conspire against the lovers. Æneas would, nevertheless, be absent, only mentioned by the other characters like a distant memory, and occasionally incarnated on stage by Víctor de la Rosa’s clarinet. 

The production was prominently featured in the catalan media (TV, radio, newspapers and magazines) and received very positive reviews. The premiere took place at the Reial Acadèmia de Medicina in Barcelona and was followed by another performance in Madrid. The creative team would soon after win the Berliner Opernpreis, what would allow them to write “Go, ÆNEAS, Go!” that would be premiered in Berlin in 2014. “DIDO reloaded” and “Go, ÆNEAS, Go!” were performed as a double feature at the Teatre Lliure in Barcelona, for 5 sold-out shows in November 2014. 

DIDO reloaded part III. Oct 23, 2013. Reial Acadèmia de Medicina, Barcelona. 

Composing DIDO reloaded was a challenging and exciting experience for me. I was assigned the third part, which is a crucial moment in the original story: the witches set a trap for Æneas and convince him to forsake Dido. I had to replace the lenghty texts with bass clarinet solos. I thought about the electronics as an extension of the witches' power on Æneas. I decided to divide my scene in two parts. First we would see the singers playing Dido and Belinda, and later there would be a blackout and we would see them back as the witches. We finally see Witch/Dido taking off her mask by the end of the scene: “Great minds against themselves conspire”. We are our own monsters.
This was my first experience with opera. I always loved the idea of opera, but very seldomly enjoyed the results. There’s something about it being over-the-top in terms of emotional expression that puts many people off (those who say “I don’t like opera”). I thought I would play around with it, I would be very serious about it, and yet I wouldn't. And for some reason, I thought I would add an Ed Wood bad-sci-fi kind of vibe to the electronics. For any kid living in the 21st century, what difference would there be between  “Great Jove” (aka Jupiter, the God) and "Plan 9 From Outer Space"