Every year, students at Choate Rosemary Hall take to the stage to demonstrate the musical lessons that they’ve learned during the year. In addition to providing the audience a meaningful performance, the Winter Vocal Festival gives Choate students the ability to showcase their talents. It is a way to both give back to the community while allowing the students to further develop.
The Winter Vocal Festival this year is scheduled to be an operatic performance of the ancient drama Dido and Aeneas, a Greek love story immortalized by Virgil in the Aeneid. The original text is about the love shared by Dido, the queen of Carthage, and Aeneas, the prince of Troy.
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The English Baroque composer Henry Purcell used Virgil’s tale as inspiration for his opera, which was staged for the first time in 1689 for a girls’ boarding school. It’s a sad tale filled with magic, heartbreak, and death, made all the more poignant for being performed by students.
Though drawn from Virgil’s original telling of the ancient love story, Purcell’s version investigates Virgil’s female characters more fully and favorably (though does not change the tragic outcome). In this way, we can see the opera being ahead of its time.
Best of all, because this is seen as a way for the school to give back to the community, the performance is completely free for children and adults (though it is recommended for those ages 10 and older). Taking your children to a free opera is a great way of exposing them to the world of the arts without having to pay the usual big-ticket prices (which you may be hesitant to do if you don’t know whether or not they’ll even enjoy a show). It’s a win-win for everyone: Your kids get to be entertained, you “culture” your kids without paying a penny, and the students get to practice their talents.
Things to Do Near Choate
Sometimes, you want to make a day trip out of your Saturdays or Sundays. If that’s the case for you, there’s plenty for you to do in and around Wallingford before or after you see the Winter Festival. There are 11 restaurants within walking distance of the school (a mile or less), including Archie Moore’s, Cafe Ra, Half Moon Coffee and Grille, and more.
You’ll also find two wineries in the area: Goueveia Vinyards and Paradise Hills Vineyard, which would make for the perfect addition to your Choate trip if you’re making a date-night out of it (just be sure to head to the vineyards first, since they close early in the winter).
Tickets to the Winter Vocal festival are free. The event is being held in the Paul Mellon Arts Center at Choate Rosemary Hall, located at 333 Christian St., Wallingford. The showings are Saturday February 25 at 8pm and Sunday February 26 at 5pm. For more information visit the school’s website here.