Opera North's Extraordinary Women
Zaray Rodriguez as Orfeo and Arianna Rodriguez as Eurydice


An original program featuring excerpts from Baroque operas and conceived by Opera North Artistic Director Louis Burkot and Stage Director Nora Winsler. For the full libretto, see below.


Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas

Dido: Elizabeth Sarian, mezzo soprano

Aeneas: Zaray Rodriguez, mezzo soprano

Belinda: Amanda Simms, soprano

Sorceress: Caitlin McGrail, mezzo soprano

Witches, Attendants: Sydney Burke, Leah Finn, sopranos


George Frederic Handel’s Giulio Cesare

Cornelia: Zaray Rodriguez, mezzo soprano

Sesto: Elizabeth Sarian, mezzo soprano


Claudio Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea

Poppea: Arianna Rodriguez, soprano

Arnalta: Caitlin McGrail, mezzo soprano


George Frederic Handel’s Semele

Juno: Zaray Rodriguez, mezzo soprano

Iris: Leah Finn, soprano


Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo et Eurydice

Orfeo: Zaray Rodriguez, mezzo soprano (image above, left)

Eurydice: Arianna Rodriguez, soprano (image above, right)

Amor: Amanda Simms, soprano


Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas

Dido: Elizabeth Sarian, mezzo soprano


Elizabeth Sarian as Dido



From Act 1, Dido and Aeneas

Shake the cloud from off your brow,

Fate your wishes does allow;

Empire growing,

Pleasures flowing,

Fortune smiles and so should you.



Ah! Belinda, I am prest

With torment not to be Confest,

Peace and I are strangers grown.

I languish till my grief is known,

Yet would not have it guest.



Grief increases by concealing,



Mine admits of no revealing.



Then let me speak; the Trojan guest

Into your tender thoughts has pres’t;

The greatest blessing Fate can give

Our Carthage to secure and Troy revive.



Whence could so much virtue spring?

What storms, what battles did he sing?

Anchises' valour mixt with Venus' charms

How soft in peace, and yet how fierce in arms!



A tale so strong and full of woe

Might melt the rocks as well as you.

What stubborn heart unmov'd could see

Such distress, such piety?



Mine with storms of care oppres’t

Is taught to pity the distress.

Mean wretches' grief can touch,

So soft, so sensible my breast,

But ah! I fear, I pity his too much.



Fear no danger to ensue,

The Hero Loves as well as you,

Ever gentle, ever smiling,

And the cares of life beguiling,

Cupid strew your path with flowers

Gather'd from Elysian bowers.


[Aeneas enters]



See, your Royal Guest appears,

How Godlike is the form he bears!



When, Royal Fair, shall I be blest

With cares of love and state distres’t?



Fate forbids what you pursue.



Aeneas has no fate but you!

Let Dido smile and I'll defy

The feeble stroke of Destiny.


If not for mine, for Empire's sake,

Some pity on your lover take;

Ah! make not, in a hopeless fire

A hero fall, and Troy once more expire.



Pursue thy conquest, Love; her eyes

Confess the flame her tongue denies.


From Act 2



Wayward sisters, you that fright

The lonely traveller by night

Who, like dismal ravens crying,

Beat the windows of the dying,

Appear! Appear at my call, and share in the fame

Of a mischief shall make all Carthage flame.


[enter Enchantresses]



Say, Beldam, say what's thy will.



The Queen of Carthage, whom we hate,

As we do all in prosp'rous state,

Ere sunset, shall most wretched prove,

Depriv'd of fame, of life and love!



Ruin'd ere the set of sun?

Tell us, how shall this be done?



The Trojan Prince, you know, is bound

By Fate to seek Italian ground;

The Queen and he are now in chase.



Hark! Hark! the cry comes on apace.



But, when they've done, my trusty Elf

In form of Mercury himself

As sent from Jove shall chide his stay,

And charge him sail tonight with all his fleet away.



But ere we this perform,

We'll conjure for a storm

To mar their hunting sport

And drive 'em back to court.



Scene [II]: The Grove

[enter Aeneas, Dido, Belinda]


RITORNELLE [Orchestra]



Thanks to these lovesome vales,

These desert hills and dales,

So fair the game, so rich the sport,

Diana's self might to these woods resort.




Behold, upon my bending spear

A monster's head stands bleeding,

With tushes far exceeding

Those did Venus' huntsman tear.



The skies are clouded, hark! how thunder

Rends the mountain oaks a sunder.



Haste, haste to town, this open field

No shelter from the storm can yield.

[exeunt Dido and Belinda and train]


[The Spirit of the Sorceress descends to Aeneas in the

likeness of Mercury]



Stay, Prince and hear great Jove's command;

He summons thee this Night away.






Tonight thou must forsake this land,

The Angry God will brook no longer stay.

Jove commands thee, waste no more

In Love's delights, those precious hours,

Allow'd by th'Almighty Powers

To gain th' Hesperian shore

And ruined Troy restore.



Jove's commands shall be obey'd,

Tonight our anchors shall be weighed.

[Exit Spirit.]


But ah! what language can I try

My injur'd Queen to Pacify:

No sooner she resigns her heart,

But from her arms I'm forc'd to part.

How can so hard a fate be took?

One night enjoy'd, the next forsook.

Yours be the blame, ye gods! For I

Obey your will, but with more ease could die.


From Act Three



See the flags and streamers curling

Anchors weighing, sails unfurling.



Phoebe's pale deluding beams

Guilding more deceitful streams.



Our plot has took,

The Queen's forsook.



Elissa's ruin'd, ho, ho!

Our plot has took,

The Queen's forsook, ho, ho!



Our next Motion

Must be to storme her Lover on the Ocean!

From the ruin of others our pleasures we borrow,

Elissa bleeds tonight, and Carthage flames tomorrow.



Destruction's our delight

Delight our greatest sorrow!

Elissa dies tonight and Carthage flames tomorrow.

[Jack of the Lanthorn leads the Spaniards out of

their way among the Enchantresses.]


[Enter Dido, Belinda]



Your counsel all is urged in vain

To Earth and Heav'n I will complain!

To Earth and Heav'n why do I call?

Earth and Heav'n conspire my fall.

To Fate I sue, of other means bereft

The only refuge for the wretched left.



See, Madam, see where the Prince appears;

Such Sorrow in his looks he bears

As would convince you still he's true.


[enter Aeneas]



What shall lost Aeneas do?

How, Royal Fair, shall I impart

The God's decree, and tell you we must part?



Thus on the fatal Banks of Nile,

Weeps the deceitful crocodile

Thus hypocrites, that murder act,

Make Heaven and Gods the authors of the Fact.



By all that's good ...



By all that's good, no more!

All that's good you have forswore.

To your promis'd empire fly

And let forsaken Dido die.



In spite of Jove's command, I'll stay.

Offend the Gods, and Love obey.



No, faithless man, thy course pursue;

I'm now resolv'd as well as you.

No repentance shall reclaim

The injur'd Dido's slighted flame.

For 'tis enough, whate'er you now decree,

That you had once a thought of leaving me.



Let Jove say what he will: I'll stay!



Away, away! No, no, away!



No, no, I'll stay, and Love obey!



To Death I'll fly

If longer you delay;

Away, away!


[Exit Aeneas]


But Death, alas! I cannot shun;

Death must come when he is gone.


From Giulio Cesare


Duet, Cornelia and Sesto
I was born / or lagrimar / sigh, and my sweet comfort,
ah, I will always cry.
If fate betrayed us,
serene and happy
I can never hope again.


Aria, Sesto

Wake up in the core,

furies of an alma offense,

to make of a traitor bitter revenge!

The shadow of the parent comes to my defense,

and says: to you the rigor, Son expects.


From L’incoronazione di Poppea


Hope, you go me
The flattering genius,
And you surround me in the meantime
Of regio yes, but imaginary mantle.
I promise you, to your promises,
I already have the crowns on my head,
And already 'l star Nero
Consort desbramatissimo possedo,
But if I search for the truth
Regina I am with simple thought.
No, I do not fear, no, no boredom,
For me, Amor wars, and Fortune.


Orchestral Interlude


Ah baby, want heaven,
What these hugs
One day not your cliffs.


No, I'm not afraid of boredom.


The empress Octavia has penetrated
Love, loves Nero
Ond'io pavento and I fear
Every day, every point
Be of your life the day, the extreme point.


For me, Amor wars, and Fortune.


Practicing with the regi is perilous,
Love and hate do not have strength in them,
It is the effects of their pure interests.


If Nero loves you, it is mere courtesy,
If you leave, you cannot hurt.
For less evil it will be better to silence you.


No, I'm not afraid of boredom.


The great spire honors with presence,
Leave, while the house blows with wind,
Reputation and smoking in payment.


You lose the honor,

Nero enjoys me.
Ambitious vices are useless!
I like fruitful sins more.


With him you can never treat one another,
And if the wedding you have for object and end,
By begging you go your ruin.


No, I'm not afraid of boredom.


Look, Poppea,
Where the lawn is more pleasant and enjoyable,
Stassi the ascetic snake.
Of the cases the vicissitudes are deadly;
Calmness is prophecy of storms.


No, I do not fear, no, no boredom,
For me, Amor wars, and Fortune.


You're crazy, if you believe
That they can make you happy and save
A blind garzon and a bald woman.
You're crazy if you believe ...


From Semele

Aria: “Iris hence away”



Awake, Saturnia, from thy lethargy!
Seize, destroy the cursed Semele!
Scale proud Cithaeron's top,
Snatch her, tear her in thy fury,
And down to the flood of Acheron
Let her fall, let her fall, fall, fall,
Rolling down the depths of night,
Never more to behold the light.
If I th'imperial scepter sway, I swear
By hell!
(Tremble, thou universe, this oath to hear!)
Not one of curst Agenor's race to spare.

IRIS, Recitative
Hear, mighty queen, while I recount
What obstacles you must surmount.
With adamant the gates are barr'd,
Whose entrance two fierce dragons guard.
At each approach they lash their forky stings
And clap their brazen wings;
And as their scaly horrors rise,
They all at once disclose
A thousand fiery eyes
Which never know repose.


Hence, Iris, hence away,
Far from the realms of day!
O'er Scythian hills to the Maeotian lake
A speedy flight we'll take!
There Somnus I'll compel
His downy bed to leave, and silent cell;
With noise and light I will his peace molest,
Nor shall he sink again to pleasing rest,
Till to my vow'd revenge he grants supplies,
And seals with sleep the wakeful dragons' eyes.


From Giulio Cesare



Do not despair, who knows?

You might achieve the success in reigning

that you have achieved in love.


Looking at your beauty,

you discover in it

how to calm a heart.

You will have arisen in love.


From Orfeo et Eurydice

EURYDICE Recitative
What life is this now
which I am about to lead?
And what fatal,
terrible secret
does Orpheus hide from me?
Why does he weep and grieve?
Ah, I am as yet unaccustomed
to the sorrows
suffered by the living!
Beneath so great a blow
my constancy fails,
the light fades
before my eyes;
my breath, locked in my bosom,
becomes laboured.
I tremble, I sway
and feel my heart wildly beating
with anguish and terror.


Oh bitter moment!
Oh cruel fate!
To pass from death
to such sorrow!

I was used to the peace
of a tranquil oblivion;
but in these tempests
my heart is shattered.

I sway, I tremble ...



Here is a new torment.


Beloved husband,
will you leave me thus?
I am consumed with grief;
will you not console me?
Sorrow overwhelms my senses;
will you not aid me?
O stars, must I then die
once more
without an embrace from you,
without a farewell?



I can restrain myself no longer;
little by little
my reason is forsaking me.
Eurydice, I forget the decree
and myself! And …


Orpheus, husband!
Ah! ... I feel ... faint.



No, beloved! Listen!
If you knew ...
ah, what am I doing?
How long
must I suffer
in this fearful hell?


Dearest, remember ... me!



What torment!
Oh how my heart is torn!
I can resist no more ...
I rant ... I tremble ... I rave ...
Ah! My treasure!


Merciful gods, what is happening?
I faint ... I die.



Alas! What have I done?
Where has love's frenzy
driven me?
Beloved Eurydice!
Eurydice! My wife!
Ah! She lives no longer,
I call her in vain!
Woe is me!
I have lost her again, and for ever.
Cruel decree! Oh death!
Oh bitter reminder!
There is no help,
no counsel for me!
I see only ? ah, cruel sight! -
the mournful signs
of my terrible plight.
Be satisfied, malevolent fate!
I am in despair!


What shall I do without Eurydice?
Where shall I go without my love?
Eurydice! Eurydice!
O heavens! Answer!
I am still true to you!
Eurydice! Eurydice!
Ah, there is no help,
no hope for me
either on earth nor in heaven!


ORFEO Recitative
Ah! May grief end my life,
and for ever!
I am already upon the path
to black Avernus!
It is not a long road
which divides me from my love.
Yes, wait, dear shade of my beloved!
Wait, wait!
No, this time you shall not cross
Lethe's sluggish waters without your husband.

He tries to kill himself.



AMOR Recitative
Orfeo, what are you doing?



And who are you
who dare to restrain
my last fury,
which my plight justifies?


Calm your anger, lay down your weapon,
and recognise Love!



Ah, is it you? I recognise you!
Grief clouded all my senses before.
Why have you come
in this bitter moment?
What do you want with me?


To make you happy!
Orpheus, you have suffered enough for my glory;
I give you back your beloved Eurydice.
I seek no greater proof of your fidelity.
Here she is: she rises
to be reunited with you.

Eurydice rises as if waking from a deep sleep.



What do I see? Ye gods!
My wife!


My husband!



Can I really embrace you?


Can I clasp you to my bosom?



to Amor
My gratitude to you.


Come, happy lovers,
let us go back to earth:
return to enjoy it!



Oh happy day!
Oh merciful Amor!

Oh joyful, blissful moment!

My contentment compensates
for a thousand woes!



Great minds against themselves conspire

And shun the cure they most desire.


From Dido and Aeneas


Thy hand, Belinda, darkness shades me,

On thy bosom let me rest,

More I would, but Death invades me;

Death is now a welcome guest.

When I am laid in earth, May my wrongs create

No trouble in thy breast;

Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.