Dido and Aeneas. An Opera Performed at Mr. Josias Priest’s Boarding School at Chelsea By Young Gentlewomen. The Words Made by Mr. Nahum Tate. Dido and Aeneas (Henry Purcell): Synopsis, Libretto, Highlights, MIDI, Noten, Sheet Music. Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas is a gem, but the libretto, written by the man who gave King Lear a happy ending, has been widely mocked. Not any.

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Dido and Aeneas Z. The dates of the composition and first performance of the opera are uncertain. It was composed no later than July[2] and had been performed at Josias Priest ‘s girls’ school in London by the end of A monumental work in Baroque operaDido and Aeneas is remembered as one of Purcell’s foremost theatrical works.

One of the earliest known English operas, it owes much to John Blow ‘s Venus and Adonisboth in structure and in overall effect. Dido and Aeneas was Purcell’s first and only all-sung opera and derives from the English masque tradition.

Originally based on Nahum Tate’s play Brutus of Alba, or The Enchanted Loversthe opera is likely, at least to some extent, to be allegorical.

The prologue refers to the joy of a marriage between two monarchs, which could refer to the marriage between William and Mary. In a poem of aboutTate alluded to James II as Aeneas, who is misled by the evil machinations djdo the Sorceress and her witches representing Roman Catholicism, a common metaphor at the time into abandoning Dido, who symbolises the British people.

The same symbolism may apply to the opera. It would be noble, or at least acceptable, for Aeneas to follow the decree of the Gods, but not so acceptable for him to be tricked by ill-meaning spirits. Although the opera is a tragedy, there are numerous seemingly lighter scenes, such as the Libetto Sailor’s song, “Take a boozy short leave of your nymphs on the shore, and silence their mourning with vows of returning, though never intending to visit them more.

Harris considers the callousness and cynicism of the song to underline the “moral” librettk the story, that young women should not succumb to the advances and promises of ardent young men. No score in Purcell’s hand is extant, and the only seventeenth-century source is a libretto, possibly from the original performance. The earliest extant score, held in the Bodleian Librarywas copied no earlier thanwell over sixty years after the opera was composed. The prologue, the end of the act 2 ‘Grove’ scene, and several dances, were almost certainly lost when the opera was divided into parts to be performed as interludes between adneas acts of spoken plays in the first decade of the eighteenth century.

The first of the arias to be published separately was “Ah, Belinda” in Orpheus Britannicus. Both arias are formed on a lamento ground bass. It has also been transcribed or used in many scores, including the soundtrack to the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers renamed “Nixon’s Walk”. It is played annually by a military band at the Cenotaph remembrance ceremonywhich takes place eaneas the Sunday nearest to 11 November Armistice Day in London’s Whitehall.


The music is sometimes thought to be too simple for Purcell inbut this may simply reflect that the intended performers were schoolchildren. The fact that the libretto from the Chelsea School performance indicates two dances for guitar, the “Dance Gittars Chacony” in act 1, and the “Gittar Ground a Dance” in the ‘Grove’ scene of act 2, has led one scholar to suggest that Purcell envisaged a guitar as a primary member of the continuo group for the opera.

There are a number of editions with realisations, and the opera’s accessibility to amateur performers is a feature that has greatly abetted the growth of its popularity in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Known to have been part of the score, it is now performed as a dance taken from other, similar works by Purcell, or invented outright in the same vein, to keep the integrity and anv of the performance. Its next performance was in as a masque incorporated into an adapted version of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure at Thomas Betterton ‘s theatre in London. After it disappeared as a staged work, with only sporadic concert performances, until when the first staged version in modern times was performed by students of the Royal College of Music at London’s Lyceum Theatre to mark the bicentenary of Purcell’s death.

As new critical editions of the score appeared, and with the revival of interest in Baroque music, the number of productions steadily increased. A version of the opera adapted to modern dance was choreographed by the American Mark Morriswho originally danced both the roles of Dido and the Sorceress.

In both the Morris and the Waltz adaptations, the characters are each portrayed by both a singer and a dancer, with the dancers onstage and the singers performing from the side of the stage or ddido orchestra pit. The opera opens with Dido in her court with her attendants.

Belinda is trying to cheer up Dido, but Dido is full of sorrow, saying ‘Peace and I are strangers grown’. Belinda believes the source of this grief to be the Trojan Aeneas, and suggests that Carthage’s troubles could be resolved by a marriage between the two. Dido and Belinda talk for a time: Dido fears that her love will make her a weak monarch, but Belinda and the Second Woman reassure her that “The hero loves as well.

The plan is to send her “trusted elf” disguised as Mercury, someone annd whom Aeneas will surely listen, to tempt him to leave Dido and sail to Italy. This would leave Dido heartbroken, and she would surely die. The chorus join in with terrible laughter, and the Enchantresses decide to conjure up a storm to make Dido and her train leave the grove and return to the palace. When the spell is prepared, the witches vanish in a thunderclap. Dido and Aeneas are accompanied by their train.

They stop at the grove to take in its beauty. A lot of action is going on, with attendants carrying goods from the hunt and a picnic possibly taking place, and Dido and Aeneas are together within the activity. This is all stopped when Dido hears distant thunder, prompting Belinda to tell the servants to prepare for a return to shelter as soon as possible. As every other character leaves the stage, Aeneas is stopped by the Didi elf, who is disguised as Mercury.


This pretend Mercury brings the command of Jove that Aeneas is to wait no longer in beginning his task of creating a new Troy on Libtetto soil. Aeneas consents to the wishes of what he believes are the gods, but is heart-broken that he will have to leave Dido.

He then goes off-stage to prepare for his departure from Carthage. Preparations are being made for the departure of the Trojan fleet. The sailors sing a song, which is followed shortly by the Sorceress and her companions’ sudden appearance. The group is pleased at how well their plan has worked, and the Sorceress sings a solo describing her further plans for the destruction of Aeneas “on the ocean”. All the characters begin to clear the stage after a dance in three sections, and then disperse.

Royal pardon

Dido is distraught and Belinda comforts her. Suddenly Aeneas returns, but Dido is full of fear before Aeneas speaks, and his words only serve to confirm her suspicions. She derides his reasons for leaving, and even when Aeneas says he will defy the gods and not leave Carthage, Dido rejects him for having once thought of leaving her. After Dido forces Aeneas to leave, she states that “Death must come when he is gone. Keep here your watch, and never, never part. Beginning with Andrew Parrott ‘s recording for Chandos with the Taverner Consort and Playersthere was an increasing preference for a more genuine period sound.

Leopold Stokowski made a string orchestra arrangement of “Dido’s Lament” and in addition to his own recordings, others who have recorded it include Matthias BamertJose SerebrierRichard Egarr and Iona Brown. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

OPERA-GUIDE: Dido and Aeneas

For the myth on which the opera is based, see Aeneid. The composer, portrait by John Clostermanc. Stay, Prince and hear. The Sorceress’ messenger, in form of Mercury, attempts to convince Aeneas to leave Carthage.

Dido and Aeneas discography. Details on Opera North’s website operanorth. See Price p. See Harris pp. See Purcell p. Boyden, Matthew et al.

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A biographyNortheastern University Press, The Earl of Harewood ed. Putnam’s and Sons,pp. Mark Morris Dance Group, Work details: Macy accessed 31 Decembergrovemusic.

Opposites attract dancer Mark Morris. They define his life and his art”Toronto Star9 Julyp. C1 Walkling, Andrew libgetto White, Bryan, ‘Letter from Aleppo: Remember not, Lord, our offences c.

Come Ye Sons of Art Music for a While Nymphs and Shepherds Abdelazer The Moor’s Pavane ” Lillibullero “. List of compositions anx Henry Purcell. Dido, Queen of Carthage c. Low Ham Roman Villa Amelia. Virgil ‘s Aeneid 19 BC. Aposiopesis Dactylic hexameter Hysteron proteron Sortes Vergilianae. Retrieved from ” livretto Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. This page was last edited on 30 Septemberat By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Opera by Henry Purcell. Spirit, in form of Mercury. Problems playing this file?