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Purcell: Dido & Aeneas CD
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1. Dido and Aeneas - Various Performers
Dido and Æneas was created in private surroundings at Josias Priest s School for Young Gentlewomen in Chelsea. Intended as it was for an amateur setting, Dido is conspicuous for the simplicity of its resources: an allfemale cast, an absence of vocal virtuosity, instrumental forces restricted to strings, and the modest contrapuntal elaboration of the choruses. The date of its first and only performance (1689) before its revival in the 20th -century speaks volumes about the English distrust of the new genre! How times have changed: Dido s lament When I am laid in earth was recently voted the nation s favourite aria. Based by the dramatist Nahum Tate on the fourth book of Virgil s Aeneid and his own Brutus of Alba, or The Enchanted Lovers (1678), the libretto relates the tragic love story of Dido, seduced and abandoned by Æneas when he leaves Carthage to found Rome. Tate departs from Virgil on two points: he substitutes witches for the divinities of Olympus, and reserves a kinder death for Dido, who instead of falling on her sword perishes of grief on her lover s departure.
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