APRIL 2019
Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Opera Enriches Latin Students’ Understanding of ‘Dido & Aeneas’

Demarest, NJ: A live performance of Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” proved to be an exciting enrichment opportunity for four Advanced Placement Latin students from the Academy of the Holy Angels. Megan Czvekus of River Edge, Hannah Hyams of Kearny, Maggie Kaczmarczyk of Elmwood Park, and Julia Mohr of Maywood attended the opera, which was held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur. The performance traces the love story between the Queen of Carthage and the Prince of Troy.

AHA Latin teacher Lilah Terwilliger Katz arranged the trip to New York City and chaperoned the students along with AHA Social Studies Department Chair Gail Fair. Katz planned the excursion in October, when the tickets became available.

“I am always looking online for performances of Purcell’s ‘Dido and Aeneas’ opera because we read the story within Vergil’s ‘Aeneid’ in AP Latin,” Katz explained. She purchased several tickets and made them available to any interested AP Latin or Latin IV-Honors students.

“We had a fantastic time!” Katz said. “Selections from the opera were performed by the Handel and Haydn Society, an instrumental group out of Boston that performs Classical and Baroque music.”

Harry Christophers conducted the performance, which was directed by Aidan Lang. Mezzo-soprano Susan Bickley and baritone David McFerrin sang the title roles. After the show, the group from Holy Angels had an opportunity to visit with McFerrin.
“Seeing (the opera) in the Temple of Dendur with the dramatic lighting truly made it come alive!” Mohr observed after the performance.

Kaczmarczyk added, "As Latin students currently reading Vergil’s ‘Aeneid,’ seeing the ‘Dido and Aeneas’ opera production at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City broadened our perspectives by introducing a different interpretation of the epic and allowed us to draw connections between our classroom knowledge and its context in the real world."

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.


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