March 4, 2007, 2:30 p.m.

  UNF Opera Ensemble
  UNF String Ensemble & UNF Chamber Singers
   Dr. Cara Suzanne Tasher, conductor | Dr. Krzysztof Biernacki, director
Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell
Tragic opera in three acts, sung in the original English
Concert version with string ensemble, lasting about an hour

Henry Purcell (PER-sul), often identified as "England's finest native composer," was born in 1659 and died in 1695, and in between he established his place among the greatest of Baroque composers by marrying contemporary Continental trends with a distinctly English sensibility. Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (1689), on a libretto by Nahum Tate (1652–1715) and based on a story from the fourth book of Virgil's Aeneid, was originally written for performance in a girls’ boarding school. It has since become one of the earliest operas still performed on a regular basis.

Synopsis: Dido, the widowed Queen of Carthage, entertains the Trojan Prince Aeneas who has been shipwrecked on his way to found a new Troy (i.e., Rome) in Italy. Dido and Aeneas fall in love, but a nasty bunch of witches will have none of it and plot to destroy Dido's happiness. The head Sorceress conjures a storm while the royal couple are out hunting. Amid the confusion as the courtiers scurry back to town, a witch impersonating the god-messenger Mercury orders Aeneas to immediately set sail for Italy. Aeneas reluctantly obeys and abandons Dido. The broken-hearted Dido cannot bear her lover's betrayal and dies from grief. The opera ends as her death is lamented by a chorus of mourning cupids.

Dramatis personae
For more information about the UNF Opera Ensemble e-mail
Dido Angelique Perretta
Aeneas Daniel Crews
Belinda Jennifer Wuerffel
Second Woman Melody Fallon
Sorceress Amanda Finch
First Witch Stefani Gundacker
Second Witch Anna Hong
Spirit Emily Sharrett
Sailor Luke Hopper

The newly established UNF Opera Ensemble provides performance opportunities for undergraduate voice majors and promotes operatic arts in the community. Under the direction of Dr. Krzysztof Biernacki, the Opera Ensemble focuses on skill development, stagecraft and theatrical experience through production and performance of complete operatic works with orchestra. Having already taken part in numerous community events with performances of operatic excerpts, the UNF Opera Ensemble will complete its inaugural season with its first fully-staged production in late April, 2007.

Formed in 1998, the UNF Chamber Singers is an auditioned ensemble open to students in music as well as different colleges across the university, and members of the UNF Chamber Singers serve as the section leaders of the UNF Chorale. The Chamber Singers, conducted by Dr. Cara Suzanne Tasher, perform local concerts for area organizations each year, including the River City Club, the University Club, Selva Marina, the UNF Alumni Association, the Builders Association of Jacksonville. Another highlight was singing the National Anthem for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The virtuoso players of the UNF String Ensemble, directed by Dr. Simon Shiao, consist of students and faculty as well as outstanding community musicians. The String Ensemble performs a wide range of repertoire from early Baroque to contemporary music with an emphasis on performing and promoting the great American composers of the past. The String Ensemble is committed to reaching out to the Northeast Florida communities. In addition to the annual concerts in the University's Lazzara Performance Hall, the String Ensemble also performs regularly in the area schools and other Jacksonville concert venues. Included among these is the upcoming April 22, 2007, Intermezzo Sunday Concert featuring various chamber music combinations, as well as a performance of Samuel Barber's famous Adagio for Strings.

Players for Dido and Aeneas

Swantje Bossemeyer-Biernacki
Casey Mink
Yu-Hsuan Hsu
Jeremy Davis
Jennifer Truthan
Tzu-Yin Liu
Erica Crawford

Linda Minke
Victor Huls
Landon Walker

Curtis Powell

Established as a powerful and versatile artist and as a talented teacher, Dr. Krzysztof Biernacki trained in North America and Europe, and his professional credits include opera, oratorio, concert, and recital performances on both continents. Highlights of his operatic engagements include The Barber of Seville, La Fanciulla del West, Un Ballo in Maschera, and Der Freischutz with the Vancouver Opera; Carmen and Rigoletto with the Manitoba Opera; and, Madama Butterfly and La Boheme with Orchestra London Canada. Engagements with various other companies have included The Merry Widow, Don Pasquale, Dido and Aeneas, The Crucible, Cunning Little Vixen, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Die Fledermaus, and Gianni Schicchi. Recently Professor Biernacki appeared in the Czech Republic singing the title role of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, in both the City Theatre of Jablonec nad Nisou and The North Bohemian Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Ústí nad Labem.

Krzysztof Biernacki's commitment to contemporary music is highlighted by world premieres heard on CBC Radio and CBC Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, including a highly acclaimed production of John Estacio's Filumena, co-produced by the Calgary Opera and Banff Centre for Performing Arts, and Naomi's Road by Ramona Luengen to a libretto by Ann Hodges, newly commissioned by the Vancouver Opera.

Respected as a solo recitalist, Dr. Biernacki frequently performs art song repertoire ranging from Haydn to Szymanowski, Rihm, and Britten. In concert and oratorio appearances he has appeared with the Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Okanagan Symphony Orchestras, and with the Vancouver Bach Choir. On September 16th, 2007, Krzysztof Biernacki and pianist Gary Smart will open the 2007-2008 season of Intermezzo Sunday Concerts with a program of songs and song cycles by Beethoven, Ravel, Gerald Finzi, and Rachmaninoff.

Professor Biernacki holds degrees from the University of Manitoba (B. Mus.), the University of Western Ontario (M. Mus.), and the University of British Columbia (D.M.A). This is Professor Biernacki's first year with the University of North Florida Department of Music, where he heads the Vocal Department and directs the UNF Opera Ensemble.

New to the Jacksonville community, UNF Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Voice Dr. Cara Suzanne Tasher brings a wealth of professional experience, having sung with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Trinity Choir at Wall Street, and the Conspirare Choir, and recorded under the batons of such luminaries as Robert Shaw, Margaret Hillis, Daniel Barenboim, Sir George Solti, Claudio Abbado, James Levine and Christoph Eschenbach. As a soloist she has appeared in Chicago's Grant Park, New York's Merkin Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Dublin's National Concert Hall. Recently, she performed with New York City’s Riverside Choral Society as "La récitante" in Debussy’s La damoiselle elue.
Dr. Tasher has conducted throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States, and has served as clinician and adjudicator for choral workshops and contests. She has prepared numerous professional organizations for performance, including NYSSMA/ACDA, Metropolitan Opera Guild, Netherlands Youth Orchestra, Copland House, Victoria Bach Festival, Atlanta Youth Symphony Chorus, the University of Texas Opera, Kentucky All-Festival Chorus, and the VOCALIZZE Festival of Portugal, among others. She was also invited to conduct in the Chorus America Choral/Orchestral Workshop for Christoph Eschenbach, the Toronto Bach Festival for Helmuth Rilling, and in IFCM's World Symposium of Choral Music for Dan-Olof Stenlund.

Her career has included work with high school students in Illinois and Georgia, and she was the Associate Conductor and Voice Coach of the world-renowned multicultural Young People's Chorus of New York City, forming new ensembles and designing annual workshops that continue to bloom. She is the founder of the Xavier University Women's Chorus, and served as the conductor of the University of Cincinnati Women's Chorus for which she won the 2006 campus-wide Excellence in Teaching award. In addition, she received the generous Presser Music Award to fund research at the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris.

Dr. Tasher holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, the University of Texas at Austin, and Northwestern University.

Intermezzo Sunday Concerts are free and open to the public. Reservations are not required.
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