Blue Hill Bach wins funds for “Dido and Aeneas” staging

BLUE HILL — The Maine Arts Commission recently awarded a $2,300 project grant to Blue Hill Bach to cover the cost of its standing-room-only production of Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas.” The chamber opera was performed last July at David’s Folly Farm in Brooksville.

Part of the 2018 Blue Hill Bach Festival, the “Dido and Aeneas” production featured student singers and dancers who performed with professional musicians and ensemble members from the local community.

Directed by Stephen Hammer, the opera’s cast included Catharine Cloutier as Dido. The University of Maine-Orono graduate, who hails from Liberty originally, is pursuing a master’s degree in historical performance at Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass. Tenor Zachary James Fisher played the Sailor. From Sabbatus, he is a fifth-year senior at UMaine, where he is pursuing a double major in music education and vocal performance.

Other cast members included UMaine students Andrew Cloutier as the Sorceress and Kayla Gayton as the Spirit. Ellenore Tarr, who comes from Brooklin, sang the role of the Second Woman. The Houghton College graduate, is now pursuing a Master of Music in choral conducting, Abraham Ross, played harpsichord in the orchestra. From Holden, he recently completed the Master of Music in Historical Performance at Oberlin Conservatory.

Grant Herreid, a faculty member at Yale University, where he leads the Yale Collegium Musicum and the Yale Baroque Opera Project, directed the music for “Dido and Aeneas.” New York-based Baroque dance specialist Carlos Fittante returned for the second year to provide stage direction and choreography.

In addition, the grant helped fund a lecture-demonstration by Herreid about Baroque opera in collaboration with the Brooksville Free Public Library.

Founded in 2011, Blue Hill Bach is a nonprofit that presents historically informed performances, recordings, and educational programs that explore vocal and instrumental music of the Baroque period. The organization’s artistic director is Stephen Hammer. For more info, visit

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