Henry Purcell - Dido and Aeneas - Dido's lamentand for the difference between nicotine and tobacco
This aria is unquestionably among the most beautiful arias in the operatic literature. 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 about , Tate alluded to James II as Aeneas, who is misled by the evil machinations of 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. This explains the addition of the characters of the Sorceress and the witches, which do not appear in the original Aeneid.
And yet what do we really know about this opera? We can no longer say with certainty in what year the opera was written, where it had its premiere, who performed it or even what the original score contained — the very things that normally provide the foundation for our understanding of a piece of music. Its first performance was thought to have taken place there in , the year after the Glorious Revolution brought the joint monarchy of William and Mary to the throne of England. None of that can now be said with any assurance. Unfortunately, it lacks a date. Maybe it was a court commission but for some reason not performed there. This connection, in turn, led to the theory that the opera was an allegory connected to the coronation of William and Mary on April 11, , a cautionary tale depicting the sad outcome if the foreign-born William who was Dutch was not true to his English queen and people.
In England, from the late Baroque to the early twentieth century, performances of opera of other nations -- French, German, and Italian opera -- was enthusiastically supported, but English opera as such never became popular. For many musicologists and opera aficionados, there is only one true English opera composer: Henry Purcell. Like other English composers of the mid-Baroque era, such as John Blow and John Gay , Purcell composed a handful of pseudo-operas, or musical plays of one kind or another; however, Purcell distinguished himself with Dido and Aeneas, a true English Baroque opera, and really the only one of its kind. Purcell's opera itself is really a "mini-opera": there are only four main roles, the orchestral forces called for are very small, and the work is set in three short acts. What is most remarkable about this work, which is based on the mythological story of Dido and Aeneas from Virgil's Aeneid, is Dido's death aria, "When I am laid in earth," arguably one of the most beautiful opera arias ever written. Though nominally an English opera, the influence of other opera traditions -- namely French and Italian -- are obvious in this aria.
Henry Purcell - Dido's lament
It is included in many classical music textbooks on account of its exemplary use of the passus duriusculus in the ground bass. - Is it possible to hear this masterpiece by Purcell without sobbing? We think emphatically not.
Henry Purcell (1659-1695) - Dido's Lament from Dido and Aeneas
Henry Purcell. The song is based off of a story in the Latin Poem the Aeneid by Virgil. It tells of an ill fated read more». K. 1. Dido's Lament Lyrics.
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