You quit smoking, lost twenty pounds and now dedicate more of your free time to charitable works in the community. But of all the resolutions you made at the beginning of the year, you have not fulfilled your promise to become more familiar with the work of ancient Rome's pre-eminent poet, Publius Vergilius Maro (known to his buddies as "Virgil"). Virgil's Aeneid, his masterwork, tells the story of the Trojan hero Aeneas as he flees the fallen Troy in search of the future site of the city of Rome. After his ship is separated from the rest of the fleet during a violent storm, Aeneas lands at Carthage, where he eventually meets and falls in love with the city-state's queen, Dido. It hardly seems fair to give away what happens next. If you absolutely must know in a hurry and can't fit reading into your busy schedule of volunteer work, go and see the Union Avenue Opera Theatre perform Dido and Aeneas, Henry Purcell's rendering of Nahum Tate's interpretive libretto. The curtain goes up at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 25, and Saturday, June 26 (and again at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 2, and Saturday, July 3) at the Union Avenue Christian Church (733 North Union Boulevard).
"In the Prologue tradition, I have chosen to assemble a more pertinent collection of Purcell airs and choruses from other sources to portray Queen Dido as a regal being, as she might have been before her brush with fate altered her life," say Scott Schoonover, the UAOT's artistic director. "The music comes from several sources, including Purcell's Ode for St. Cecilia's Day, The Fairy Queen and Dioclesian. This [particular] production looks back more to Virgil's Aeneid than to Tate's tragedy. This is a special show for me, as it is the first opera UAOT performed ten years ago. I hope we can do it a little more justice the second time around."
Tickets are $25 to $30. For reservations and more information, call the Union Avenue Opera Theatre at 314-361-2881. -- John Goddard
Steve Davis likes Elvis. Big deal: Lots of people like Elvis. Do lots of people have the white rhinestone-studded jumpsuit to prove it? Nope. Do Elvis enthusiasts often actually perform as the King? No, the fickle bunch. Davis is a true fan, and you, the Presley quasi-fan, can catch his act (with the Spectrum Band) for free from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Watch as a little corner of Elvisville (Bluebird Park on Kiefer Creek Road) is transformed into a mini-Graceland -- thankfully, a less expensive one. Listen to the sounds of the King incarnate as you lounge in your lawn chair, and improve your fan status just by being there. For more lip-curlin', hip-shakin' details, call 636-227-7508. -- Alison Sieloff
Lotsa attention being paid to the classic Judy Garland musical, Meet Me in St. Louis, this year for some reason. Something to do with a World's Fair, maybe? Anywho, if you've had enough of the fair but still can't get enough of Ms. Garland, check out the Gateway Men's Chorus' tribute to the legendary performer, simply entitled Judy! This original production, especially commissioned by the GMC for its season-ending performance, features the talents of young Marie McManama in the titular role. All of Judy's hits, including medleys from both Meet Me and The Wizard of Oz, will be performed with the pizzazz worthy of the exclamation point after Judy's name. Judy! plays at 8 p.m. at the Edison Theatre (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-534-1111; $10 to $25) on Friday, June 25, and Saturday, June 26. -- Paul Friswold
Drum 'n' B(r)ass
Alton is booking some pretty unusual events this summer, such as the upcoming drum 'n' bass revue. We didn't even know there were any DJ dens there, let alone a large d 'n' b following. All this time, across the river, a little microcosm of music culture has been developing...oh, wait, what's that? It's a drum and brass revue? Oh. Well, there will still be beats and bass, just in a more back-to-basics style. Some of the world's best corps will gather at 7 p.m. at Public School Stadium (1513 State Street, Alton, Illinois). Tickets cost $13 (618-465-8281 or www.abob.net), but that's a steal -- you'll get to see more than 800 performers. Imagine the sonic chaos if there were that many DJs. -- Alison Sieloff