Victoria Mature spent her teenage years, like many of us, playing music that drove her parents a little crazy. Her father Victor, the late hunky movie star of the 1940s and 1950s, would plead for something optimistic while her mother Lorey would say, “Not that again!”
But it wasn’t Nirvana or Snoop Dogg who were the objects of their displeasure. Victoria had fallen in love with Henry Purcell, the 17th century creator of the first known English opera, ‘Dido and Aeneas’.
“I used to sing ‘Remember me, when I lay on the ground’ from ‘Dido’s Lament’ so often,” she recalled. “My love for Dido has only grown over the years.”
Mature, a soprano, is a San Diego native who divides her time between her home in Del Cerro and the Rancho Santa Fe property her father bought in the late 1940s. She will star in the production of ” Dido & Aeneas” by Bodhi Tree Concerts. It lasts three nights, starting Friday, at Bread & Salt.
His enthusiasm for ancient opera is shared by the production’s director, Vanessa Dinning, who also enjoyed “Dido’s Lament” as a teenager. In fact, the discovery was a bonding moment when the two met in 2007.
“Victoria is a phenomenal opera singer who has performed all over the world,” Dinning said. “Her acting talent really shines through the two arias (‘Dido’). It’s amazing how she can take you into this world.
“If Victoria wasn’t an actress and a singer — even if she’s my best friend and we share a passion for Dido — I wouldn’t have chosen her. But that’s the role she was born for.
Freely inspired by Virgil’s epic poem “The Aeneid”, the opera tells the love story between Dido, queen of Carthage, and Aeneas, hero of Troy and Rome. Unsurprisingly, hateful gods, witches, and witches are determined to thwart them.
The Bodhi Tree cast includes Evan White as Aeneas and Katherine Polit as Dido’s confidante Belinda. Brendan Nguyen is the musical director and conductor and Michael Mizerany the choreographer.
“I am thrilled to work with this excellent cast and crew. The production is a fascinating blend of baroque and contemporary music,” Mature said.
Dinning agreed, adding: “We don’t want to change Purcell’s brilliant score. We have Greek and Baroque influences in design and Baroque instruments. But we also point out what’s wacky about it. Wherever there’s magic or sorcery, there’s heavy metal. When the god Mercury comes into play, we use EDM. It’s just madness!”
Mature, who considers Dido a “bad ass”, describes the 60-minute opera as fast and accessible.
“It highlights the concept of fate; no mortal can escape it,” she said. “But ‘Dido and Aeneas’ has a lot of comic relief. It’s not just Dido’s laments – it’s not all laments, I promise!”
Opera singer Victoria Mature has fond memories of her father, movie matinee idol Victor Mature, who died in 1999 when she was in her twenties. But she saw it in a different light when she started showing her films at film festivals.
“I hadn’t seen many of his movies on the big screen,” she said. “The theater was full of people laughing and panting. I was amazed.”
Before performing in “Dido and Aeneas”, Victoria opened the 2022 season of Bodhi Tree Concerts in March with “Victoria (& Victor) Mature Cabaret”, a multimedia tribute to her father.
“The show was about his career and having him as a father,” she said.
“The last time he saw me perform was in my freshman year. I sang ‘Rusalka’ by Dvorak. I sing this melancholy song and I could hear dad sniffling.
“He was crying at everything. He cried the most when I played. It’s cute but funny, this handsome crying kid.
“My dad didn’t get bogged down by the negative reviews and comments. He found a way to succeed and enjoy life. He used to say, “I’m not an actor. I have 64 movies to prove it!”
Bodhi Tree Concerts presents ‘Dido & Aeneas’
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Sept. 24 and 25. Concerts benefit the Summit for Stem Cell Foundation.
Where: Bread and Salt, 1955 Julian Avenue, Logan Heights
Call: (619) 546-7660
On line: bodhitreeconcerts.org
Wood is a freelance writer.