Daniel Y. (coolascaliban) from CANTON, MI Reviewed on 1/16/2008...
An excellent introduction to 17th century composition. The story is classic yet concise and filled with emotional intensity, particularly track 16.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Michelle P. from LINWOOD, NJ Reviewed on 11/2/2006...
New, never opened.
1 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Yes and YES.
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you're thinking of exploring baroque opera, this opera, and more especially this recording, makes a brilliant introduction - not too expensive, easily enjoyable, and with great singing all round. But of course, for 5 stars it would need to be more than that... and it most certainly is. This recording rates in my mind as one of the greatest achievements in all opera. Dame Janet Baker is simply breathtaking as Dido - she portrays all the noble tragedy of the part, and I guarantee her aching rendition of the famous lament will raise a few tears. This is undoubtedly her finest recording (rating with the tremendous and foolishly underrated Mackerras Messiah).As for the more controversial portrayals - those of Aeneas and the Sorceress - I personally agree full heartedly with the casting. Herincx 'gruff' manner is in fact perfect for the role, Aeneas is after all a rough and tumble warriorman, is he not? And besides, the A minor recitative at the end of the second act is executed with stunning beauty. As for Monica Sinclair's Sorceress, what a characterful performance! Her somewhat ugly, vicious singing of the part contrasts superbly with the pure nobility of Dido. I suppose it is similar in some ways to Stolze's Mime on the Solti Siegfried - really a matter of taste.Baker, Sinclair and Herincx receive tremendous support from supporting cast and chorus. The chorus is asked to fulfill a number of roles, and all are done commendably. Lewis' direction of the ECO, which though predating the advent of period performance still achieves a lithe and often stirring texture, and Thurston Dart's stylish execution of the harpsichord continuo round out a unsurpassed and faultless performance. A must."
The Best Dido Of All
Erin Matthiessen | Portland, OR USA | 09/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In my not very humble opinion, no one has sung this role better than Dame Janet. For nobility of expression, intensity of feeling, tonal beauty and almost unendurable grief she is unmatched. If you are unaware of the artistry of Janet Baker, this is an excellent place to start your discovery of one of the greatest, and now - sadly - somewhat forgotten, interpretive artists of our time. You owe it to yourself."
Marvelous performances with two reservations
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 04/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"By a coincidence, an opera company I am allied with was preparing a "youth" production of Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" at the very time I received a copy of the 1961 production which is now part of the EMI Legendary Performances series: (289 466 387 -2). So I was very interested in the vocal interpretations of these characters whose stories were assumed to be known by librettist Nahum Tate and whose traits had to be sketched strongly and quickly by the composer. Scarcely any time for deep personality development in the 55 minutes this play takes up. Janet Baker is a marvel in the role of Dido, as the earlier commentators never tired of saying; and what she does vocally to create a believable person should be assigned listening for all singers--and not only those playing Dido. She gets tremendous help from the English Chamber Orchestra and St. Anthony's Singers under Anthony Lewis, whose brisk pacing never lets the score lag, and from a good Belinda in Patricia Clark. I cannot say much for the Aeneas of Raimund Herincx, whose voice is far too gruff for both the character and the style of singing, which is out of synch with that of the others. Another drawback is the Sorceress of Monica Sinclair (who might be familiar to many as the contralto in most of the EMI Gilbert & Sullivan recordings from the late 1950s and early 1960s). We have no idea if Purcell meant her to be comic, but the use of a Wicked Witch of the West voice simply does not work in this opera. Indeed it would not work even in "Hansel and Gretel"! But Baker steals the show and hearing her performance is a prerequisite to understanding this opera fully."
DAVID BRYSON | Glossop Derbyshire England | 10/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't recommend this strongly enough to music-lovers who, like me, are not very well up in 17th century composers. First, this opera has a good strong, clear libretto. The story moves fast, the characters and situations are strongly delineated and contrasted, the sense of developing tragedy is powerful and moving. Purcell's Dido has has the stature of Virgil's
--- regina graui iamdudum saucia cura ---
--- the queen long since wounded with a heavy care
a queen and a strong woman driven to suicide by a betrayed love, the part grandly realised by Baker. Herincx has the right idea of Aeneas too, big and 'heroic' despite needing only token prompting from the powers above to abandon Dido and anything she might have meant to him. Virgil's malevolent Juno is replaced by a stagy cast of witches and whatnot, and rightly so for greater theatricality. (I'm OK by staginess and exaggeration here.)For those like myself whose idea of opera starts with Handel and gets going properly with Gluck, this piece is not easy listening to begin with.It has been an education to learn how the musical resources of the 17th century can be equal to a story as powerful as this. I do not comment on details of the performance as it is still unfamiliar ground to me, but I do not expect ever to find it anything except magnificent."
A Performance Resonating With Emotional Intensity
Classicalfan | Reston, VA USA | 11/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Janet Baker's performance of Dido's Lament is absolutely stunning in its emotional intensity and would be enough to make this performance unforgettable. But there is more to commend this recording. Baker's vocal clarity, and of all of the other characters, is another outstanding feature of this CD. The chorus is first-rate throughout this recording, especially at the end, as they sing, "With drooping wings ye Cupids come, and scatter roses on her tomb . . . " Although another reviewer has commented that he finds Raimund Herincx's voice as Aeneas too gruff, I find powerful, moving, and thoroughly convincing, as when he lowers his voice and sings in a voice that is anything but gruff, "but with more ease could die."
It's true, as one of the other reviewers comments, that there is something about Monica Sinclair's voice and enunciation as the Sorceress that reminds one a bit of the Wicked Witch of the West and gives her performance an air of contrived theatricality, making her supposed malevolence less than convincing. But the other aspects of this performance are so outstanding that this one reservation is not enough to lower my rating below a 5.
The performance of the English Chamber Orchestra and of Thurston Dart on harpsichord are also of the highest quality.
The quality of the sound from this analog recording made in 1961 is outstanding; the sound engineers who have made this 24-bit digital remastering are truly to be commended.
The CD booklet contains photos of Janet Baker and Raimund Herincx, the entire libretto, and two well-written and informative essays, the first by Alan Blyth on Janet Baker, with an analysis of her singing, and the second by one of the original performers on this recording, Thurston Dart (harpsichord), on the story and music of this beautiful opera. Very highly recommended."