A v oice teacher and early music fan
George Peabody | Planet Earth | 09/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"HOGWOOD PRODUCES THE BEST 'DIDO' EVER: SKILLED SOLOISTS, DELICIOUS DRAMA, INTELLIGENT INSTRUMENTAL ACCOMPANIMENT AND WELL-SCHOOLED CHORUS.
Joseph Kerman, in 1952,described this opera as a 'crystalline little opera' which attains 'dramatic perfection'. It was first performed at a girl's school in 1689. The librettist, Nahum Tate, was a playwright and poet with connections at the universities and with writers of educational books and works of moral instruction. The opera, from the moment the overture begins tells a story of tragedy and violence.
The desertion of Dido by Aeneas and her subsequent death is related in Book IV of Virgil's 'Aenid'. Aeneas's dalliance with Dido distracts him from what ought to be his purpose, the foundation of Rome. He sails from Carthage to fulfill his destiny and , by her own hand, Dido dies. Tate represents Aeneas' Roman objective as an illusion, his instructions to embark for Italy as a device by the Sorceress to achieve her malign objective: the destruction of Queen Dido and her Kingdom. Therefore, this is the tragedy of Dido; her feelings, not Aeneas' mechanical obedience to orders(which are false;he is as much misled as Othello),are what signify.
The Sorceress is sung by a bass and the chorus of witches contains tenors and basses as was usual at the time. The First Sailor is sung by a young boy who could be a midshipman in those days. The spirit of the Sorceress is given to a countertenor, a voice with traditional connotations of the supernatural. The 'alto' line of the choruses is given to countertenors and high tenors, which makes the low tessitura of, for example, the opening of 'Haste'haste to town','Destruction's our delight'and the final 'With drooping wings'more plausible.
This well-paced, well-cast performance is probably the best, all-around period instrument 'Dido' available. Tenor John Mark Ainsley copes well with the role of Aeneas. nicely balancing a war hero's strength and a suitor's courtliness. Catherine Bott, soprano, uses a nice variety of vocal colors and Emma Kirkby, soprano,makes a wondefully giddy Belinda.
This is an amazing rendition by Christopher Hogwood and the Academy of Music. The solo voices are skilled and all performers are dramatically perfect. The accompaniment, including the special sound effects. is tastefully done. I do have 2 other performances that are quite good, but I like this one the best."
Too much thunder and ligthning
C. G. Kiem | Cochin, Indien | 07/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is certainly a good rendition of Purcell's chamber opera, well sung and performed, although I find the sound effects of thunder and lightning overdone and partly disturbing, especially since they are not in accordance with the otherwise "authentic practice" of this recording. (I am sure there was no prefabricated thunder and lightning at hand in Purcell's time, was it?) Still, there are more interesting versions of "Dido and Aeneas" available. If you are getting your first CD with this opera, try out the legendary 1961 recording with the English Chamber Orchestra, featuring Janet Baker as Dido. It's full of drama, and the sound engineering is excellent. If you prefer a version on period instruments, take a look at William Christie's 1994 recording with Les Arts Florissants. The playing is more transparent than on the Hogwood CD and the sound altogether more brilliant."