Henry Purcell (1659–1695) Dido and Aeneas
Opera in 3 Acts Duration: 60' Text: Nahum Tate
solos: SSSMezMezMezT(Bar)Bar – choir – str(bc)
Place and time: Carthage, Didos Palace, in a rock cave, on the ship, after the end of the Trojan War
Characters: Dido, Queen of Carthage (mezzo-soprano) - Aeneas, ein Trojan Prince (baritone) - Belinda, Noblewoman in the wake of the Queen (soprano) - Sorceress (mezzo-soprano) - 1st Witch (soprano) - 2nd Witch (mezzo-soprano) - 2nd Woman (soprano) - Spirit (soprano) - Seaman (tenor) - Didos Retinue, Witches, Sailors (chorus) - Dances ad lib (Ballet)
“Dido and Aeneas,” regardless of its brevity, is Purcell‘s only opera in the true sense. The music, full of drama and lyrical sensations, makes this early opera document a varied masterpiece: Dido’s deeply felt arias are juxtaposed in opposition with simple songs, grotesque mocking songs of witches, popular sailor songs and virtuosically pleasing dances. The content of the opera – the tragic love of the two protagonists – goes back to the events depicted by Vergil in the fourth book of his “Aeneis” that led to the founding of Rome. On his odyssey, after the fall of Troy, Aeneas makes his way to Carthage, where Dido is the ruler after the murder of her husband. Both fall passionately in love with each other. Aeneas, however, leaves Carthage on divine orders to found a new empire in Italy, whereupon the desperate Dido kills herself.