When: Fri., March 18, 8 p.m., Sat., March 19, 2 & 8 p.m. and Sun., March 20, 2 p.m. 2016
English Baroque composer Henry Purcell wrote his first opera, Dido and Aeneas, at the tail end of the 17th century, and used a story from Virgil's Aeneid as his inspiration. It's old, yes, but it's also timeless. Aeneas is a dashing warrior-prince on his way to found a new city of Troy when a storm sweeps him off course to Carthage and its beautiful queen, Dido. Her sister, Belinda, thinks a marriage between these two monarchs could right the nation, but Dido is unsure. Then she meets Aeneas and thinks marriage might not be so bad. But a sorceress and her coven of witches conspire to destroy Dido and Carthage and so set their romance off course. It's a quick three-act about love, magic and betrayal, and it includes the monumentally sad and glorious aria, "When I am laid in Earth," more commonly known as "Dido's Lament." UMSL Opera Theatre presents Dido and Aeneas at 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (March 18 to 20) at the University of Missouri-St. Louis' Touhill Performing Arts Center (1 University Boulevard at Natural Bridge Road; 314-516-4949 or www.touhill.org). Tickets are $5 to $10.