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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dido and Aeneas, Purcell, 5 Mar 2012
This review is from: Purcell: Dido & Aeneas (Recorded Live At Royal Opera House Covent Garden 2009) [DVD] [2010] [NTSC] (DVD)
Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas is based on a section of Virgil's epic poem, The Aeneid. It tells the story of Dido (Sarah Connolly), Queen of Carthage who falls in love with the Trojan hero Aeneas (Lucas Meachem), who visits her land after the downfall of his country, in search for the new Troy. He returns her love, but thier happiness is doomed from the start, as trouble begins to brew.

A sorceress(Sara Fulgoni), hates people who find joy and feels a need to turn their joy into pain. She tells her plan to two witches (Eri Nakamura and Pumeza Matshikiza), which is to send one of her spirits dsguised as Mercury, who tell's Aeneas to continue his queste to find the new Troy. Aeneas, beliving the spirit is indeed Mercury,is aungusihed by the thought of leaving his beloved Dido. However, he consents and leaves a heart broken Dido, which ends the opera in tragedy.

Lucas Meachem was wonderful as Aeneas, his deep voice powerful and strong, suiting the role well, his performance of the aria "Jove's comand shall be obeyed/But Ah, what language etc." sounded increadibly beautiful, from it's start to finish. Sara Fulgoni was equally great,her firey mezzo voice was wonderfully suited for the role of the evil sorcerss. Her two companions soprano Eri Nakamura and contralto Pumeza Matshikiza were terrific, their voices blending into an astoundingly exsquisite tone. Their acted very well together seeing as they were ment to be conjoined, their movments did not restrict them from using the full extent of their voices, which results in a fantastic effect. Countertener Iestyn Davies, beutifully sung the aria "stay prince and hear",his high voice never wavering and creating stunningly pure notes.

Soprano Lucy Crowe was vocally excellent as Belinda, beautifully singing aria's such as "Pusure thy conqueste" and "thanks to these loansome vales". She definitely was one of the best singers in the production. However, her acting skills were terrible, resulting in some scenes being unnecessarily distracting. But her sweet and superb voice, excellent for baroque, made up for her bad acting. On the other hand, it is unfortunate that when Dido is dying, rather then crying, she looks as if she is trying not to vomit. Thankfully Sarah Connolly is so mesmerizing that this does not detract.

Sarah Connolly was easily the greatest performer on the stage, her extrodinarly rich and beautiful voice was astounding to hear. Her performances of the aria's "Death must come when he is gone.","Thy hand Belinda" and the incredible "When I am laid in Earth" was earth shatteringly outstounding, sending a chill down my arms. Her acting was good, but nothing in this production could match that voice. Her performance was spellbinding and should be repeated again and again.

The Stage design suites it setting, with marvelous lighting and colours. The costumes are also appropriate for a mythical setting, not at all modernised. The royal ballet is increadible, the movements they performed were captivating and wonderfully in rythm to the beautiful baroque music, composed by the genius Purcell. Christopher Hogwood conducts the brilliant Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, this production is magnificent along with wonderful singers and chorus. I definitely reccomend purchasing this DVD.
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