Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

This page lists all recordings of Dido and Aeneas, by Henry Purcell (1659-95) on CD, DVD, Blu-ray & download (MP3 & FLAC). Generally, more recent releases are listed first, but with priority given to those that are in stock.

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March 2009
First Choice
September 2001
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September 2001
Editor's Choice
February 2009
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All recordings

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Purcell: Dido & Aeneas (plus Bonus Arias)

Purcell: Dido & Aeneas (plus Bonus Arias)


Purcell:

Dido and Aeneas

The Tempest: Arise ye subterranean winds

Rec. 1958

Philomusica of London

Halcyon days (from King Arthur, Z629)

Rec. 1958

Philomusica of London

What shall I do to show how much I love her? (from Prophetess or The History of Dioclesian, Z627)

Rec. 1958

Philomusica of London


Patricia Clark, Eileen Poulter, Monica Sinclair, Rhianon James, Catherine Wilson, Dorothy Dorow, Raimund Herincx & John Mitchinson

St. Anthony Singers & English Chamber Orchestra, Anthony Lewis

“This set really stands on the basis of Baker’s Dido and she is marvellous...the Alto disc sounds fine and full-bodied and certainly as good as the Decca version...All lovers of this opera should have Baker’s performance of Dido, and this is an excellent and cheap way to acquire it.” MusicWeb International, April 2013

Alto - ALC1210

(CD)

$8.00

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas


Solenn’ Lavanant Linke (Dido), Alejandro Meerapfel (Æneas), Yeree Suh (Belinda), Fabián Schofrin (Sorceress), Mariana Flores (Second Witch, Second woman), Magali Arnault (First Witch), Christophe Carré (Spirit of the Sorceress) & Valerio Contaldo (Sailor)

La Nouvelle Ménestrandie & Cappella Mediterranea, Leonardo García Alarcón (direction)

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 all female 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.

“As far as our performance is concerned, I thought it appropriate to expand the instrumental forces to include wind, as was customary at the time, especially for French operas. I also wished to preserve the sometimes intimate character of the typical English consort of four or five instruments. The lyra viol is used to accompany some of the recitatives, notably the laments. Considerable research on the relationship between text and intervals in Purcell’s writing showed us the way towards discovering the sweetness of ninths, the rage of fourths, the muffled sonorities produced by sixths, the feeling of peace a third leaves behind it, the clear-sighted audacity of a second, the torment of a diminished seventh, the restfulness of a minor seventh and the strength of conviction of an octave, not to mention the false relations which one is more used to finding on the Iberian peninsula. Thus a whole world of colours blossoms in the texts of Nahum Tate, just as the words of Alessandro Striggio had introduced Monteverdi into a new universe when he was composing L’Orfeo. In conclusion, I felt our interpretation should emphasise the importance of reassessing Dido and Æneas as a piece conceived for performance by young singers. Our project reflects the shared desire of a conservatory in Geneva and an ensemble of musicians to join forces to perform a work which is difficult to get to grips with yet was above all written for simple people in an almost domestic context who were unfamiliar with the world of opera and unaware of the important role with which history was entrusting them.” Leonardo García Alarcón

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.

“Solenn' Lavanant Linke's voluptuous, volatile voice is a thrilling find for the unhinged Dido...Fabian Schofrin's Sorceress is outrageous, his two witches sounding like they've inhaled helium.” Classic FM Magazine, April 2011 ***

“[Alarcón] has a proper sense of style and his orchestra turns in neat and accomplished playing...Solenn’ Lavanant Linke has a curiously metallic tone: uningratiating at first, but one soon gets used to it and by the time of the Lament she is very moving.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2011

“it is clearly a performance full of fun, and if the performers sometimes overstep the mark...their youthful enthusiasm for the music and the freshness they bring to it are enormously compelling...[The Lament] is delivered with immaculate poise, beautiful restraint and not only real technical mastery but a leve of musical maturity which defies [Linke's] tender years.” International Record Review, December 2010

“From many points it is an ideal realisation of Purcell's tight-knit masterpiece, with young voices, a small instrumental ensemble, lively tempi and transparent textures...it proves the continued vitality and international reach of Purcell's mini-opera.” The Observer, 3rd October 2010

Early Music - up to 25% off

Ambronay - AMY022

(CD)

Normally: $18.50

Special: $15.72

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas


Susan Bickley, Della Jones & Peter Harvey

St. James’s Baroque Players & St. James’s Singers, Ivor Bolton

“…with Della Jones as Dido giving one of her finest recorded performances… There is no weak link… Setting the seal on the performance’s success, the choir is among the freshest and liveliest and the use of guitar continuo… enhances the happy intimacy of the presentation " Penguin Guide ***

Warner Classics Das Alte Werk - 2564698569

(CD)

$11.00

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas


Susan Graham (Dido), Ian Bostridge (Aeneas), Camilla Tilling (Belinda), Cécile de Boever (Second Woman), Felicity Palmer (Sorceress), David Daniels (Spirit), Paul Agnew (Sailor) & Emmanuelle Haïm (harpsichord & direction)

Le Concert d’Astrée & European Voices

The brand new series celebrates EMI - The Home of Opera with Haïm's recording of Dido and Aeneas with Susan Graham and Ian Bostridge. Includes complete libretto and synopsis on a bonus CD ROM.

“Haïm's continuo group plays a vital role in the vibrancy of the performance: six of em...constantly changing colour in an organic tapestry that's continually evolving, improvised in response to the singers or at least that's how it feels...The casting shows similar imagination. [Graham's is] a bigger voice than you might expect, but so intelligently used that the emotional range increases without our tragic heroine threatening to burst out of her corsets.” Andrew McGregor, bbc.co.uk, 27th January 2004

“It might be an exaggeration to say that this new Dido has one foot in England and the other in France, but it is not far from the truth. The conductor and the instrumentalists establish a French style in the overture. Extremes of tempo, exaggerated dotted rhythms, the instrumental timbres, and an abundance of rolled chords and embellishments evoke spectacles staged at Versailles” Classical Net, 2004

Virgin - The Opera Series - 9668212

(CD)

$12.50

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas


Sarah Connolly (Dido), Gerald Finley (Aeneas), Lucy Crowe (Belinda), Patricia Bardon (Sorceress), William Purefoy (Spirit), Sarah Tynan (Second Woman), John Mark Ainsley (Sailor), Carys Lane & Rebecca Outram (Witches)

Choir of the Age of Enlightenment & Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Steven Devine and Elizabeth Kenny (directors)

Chandos’ featured release is a new recording of the first English operatic masterpiece, Purcell’s tragedy Dido and Aeneas. Starring Sarah Connolly, Gerald Finley, with the Orchestra and Choir of the Age of Enlightenment, it is released to commemorate the 350th anniversary of Purcell’s birth.

Directed from the keyboard by Steven Devine and Elizabeth Kenny as in recent concert performances, the ensemble presents the opera in a version that incorporates other dance works by Purcell.

There have been two revolutions in scholarly thinking about Dido and Aeneas and both had serious implications for historically inclined performers, and demand a creative response today. The musicological backdrop to this recording results in a performance closer to the court entertainment of Purcell’s day, in which musical dramas evolved from the English theatre tradition.

Sarah Connolly, the quintessential Dido of the early twenty-first century, has been the driving force behind this recording. She writes of the project, ‘It seems I have known Purcell’s Dido all my life and feel able to express myself in this music like no other… As a character, Dido fascinates me to the point of obsession’.

Connolly has performed with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on many occasions, including two productions at Glyndebourne – Giulio Cesare and St Matthew Passion – as well as Dido and Aeneas at the Proms, the South Bank Centre and Tetbury Festival. One recent review of Connolly’s Dido had the following to say: ‘It was the sheer depth of emotion Connolly infused in her portrayal of Dido that was truly remarkable. Emotion flowed off the stage from the intensity in her voice and through her actions. Her final aria, one of the most beautiful in English baroque music, brought a tear to the eye in a hall so quiet you could hear a pin drop… a moving portrayal of this tragic heroine’ (MusicalCriticism.com).

This impressive performance by an extraordinary group of musicians makes for a significant addition to the catalogue.

Sarah Connolly and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will perform Dido and Aeneas at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in March 2009.

“Here is England's first great opera presented with a truly cohesive sense of theatrical purpose… Sarah Connolly is the driving force from the start… a supremely wide-ranging, tragic and experienced queen… inhabiting the shadows of "Ah! Belinda" with early signs of deplorable fate... the Lament... Connolly lives it with exactly the right blend of pre-conceived nobility and gut-wrenching sadness, simply confirming it as one of the musical high-points of the 17th century.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2009

“This new Dido… enshrines Connolly as one of the most affecting Carthaginian Queens since Janet Baker's account nearly half a century ago. From the outset, Connolly exudes imposing presence, pathos and unassailable dignity; her Act III Lament consummates a deeply-felt empathy with the role (honed not just in Purcell but also mindful of Berlioz's portrait in The Trojans). Gerald Finley's aristocratic Aeneas and Patricia Bardon's gimmick-free yet blood-chilling Sorceress are particularly impressive - though Bardon's sorority of witches sounds more house-trained than maliciously feral, while the playing of the OAE for co-directors Elizabeth Kenny and Stephen Devine is ever-alert and full of flair.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2009 ****

“The great singing comes from Patricia Bardon's lethal Sorceress and Gerald Finley's sincere, subtly anguished Aeneas. The playing, from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, co-directed by harpsichordist Steven Devine and guitarist Elizabeth Kenny, is exquisite.” The Guardian, 13th February 2009 ***

“A passionate and charismatic venture, the brainchild of Sarah Connolly, the Dido on this disc. Gerald Finley is stunning as a brave and silken-voiced Aeneas, and the continuo powerhouse of Kenny and Devine is awesome.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2009

“Lucy Crowe's Belinda is a splendid foil for Connolly's self-absorption, with her astute and increasingly desperate buoying up. The Sorceress of Patricia Bardon oozes class with an implacable display of vocal authority over cheap cliché, joined by two witches who gossip like a couple of housewives in the launderette. And then there's that single-tracked Aeneas, whom Purcell gives nothing of great moment. Gerald Finley parades the conventional Trojan Prince with generic regret and a smattering of hubris.
The textural lightness of the OAE, for whom a certain emotional reserve ultimately appears all the more powerful, is another feature of this excellent recording, as is the outstandingly deft co-direction of Elizabeth Kenny and Steven Devine.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Sarah Connolly as Dido is magnificent; from her opening ''Ah, Belinda'', she presents a queen emotionally removed from her surroundings, a subdued loner, predicting disaster even amidst present happiness...This truly feels like the 'Dido' for the 21st century.” Charlotte Gardner, bbc.co.uk, 28th January 2009

“[Connolly's] Queen is not merely stately and regal...is surprisingly real, utterly human, vulnerable and devastated by her perceived rejection...Finley is an ideal Aeneas...making more of his character than one usually encounters, with virility underscoring his interpretation...It is the disc of the year and should be chosen over its eminent predecessors, if only for Connolly’s majestic, yet all too human Dido.” Opera Britannia, 23rd August 2011 ****

“Connolly's characterization is deeply moving, with fine tonal contrasts in Dido's Lament. Gerald Finley too makes the most of the limited role of Aeneas with highly expressive singing...First-rate recording, finely balanced to an apt scale.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2009

Early Music - up to 25% off

Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0757

(CD)

Normally: $17.00

Special: $14.79

(also available to download from $10.50)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Filmed at Hampton Court House


Purcell’s much-loved tragic masterpiece is an intense tale of heroism, passion, betrayal and ultimate tragedy, played out against a backdrop of fiery rituals, evil spells and pageantry. This film was first shown on television in 1995 to celebrate the tercentenary of Purcell’s death. The American soprano Maria Ewing stars as Dido, with Karl Daymond as Aeneas. They head an excellent British cast including Rebecca Evans as Belinda, Sally Burgess as the Sorceress, Patricia Rozario as the First Enchantress and James Bowman as the Voice of Mercury. The Collegium Musicum 90 is conducted by Richard Hickox, and the film was directed by Peter Maniura.

This production of Dido & Aeneas was filmed entirely on location at Hampton Court House in 1995, where spectacular settings were created in the house and grounds by the Dutch designer Niek Kortekaas.

Director Peter Maniura said of the production, “Purcell’s masterpiece is a miracle of dramatic compression. Inspired by the paintings of the 17th Century, I have tried to recreate a rich filmic world which places a classical love story with its heroes and heroines, magic and intrigue, in a Baroque setting”.

“Maria Ewing is a lugubrious Dido laid in fire as much as earth in Manuira's production for television. Flaming torches culminate in a funeral pyre that Bellini's tragic heroine Norma might have envied.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2009 ***

“Interiors flicker by torchlight and the outdoor scenes are a highly attractive mixture of Poussin and period drama, with sumptuous costumes and thoughtfully designed set pieces… a rich feast that makes fulsome use of the location, and the director Peter Maniura complements Purcell's music with consistently sensitive imagery.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2009

DVD Video

Region: 2,3,4,5

Format: NTSC

Warner Music Vision - 5144288222

(DVD Video)

$22.25

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas


“The timbre and weight of Ann Murray's voice drag down Dido's vocal line. While neatly shaping the phrases of the chorus, Harnoncourt reins in neither its volume nor the soloists' rubatos.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2008 **

Warner Classics Das Alte Werk - 2564698528

(CD)

$11.00

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Purcell: The Fairy Queen and Dido & Aeneas

Purcell: The Fairy Queen and Dido & Aeneas


Purcell:

The Fairy Queen, Z629

Jennifer Vyvyan, Mary Wells, Alfreda Hodgson, James Bowman, Peter Pears, Ian Partridge, Charles Brett, John Shirley-Quirk, Owen Brannigan

English Chamber Orchestra, Ambrosian Opera Chorus, Benjamin Britten

Dido and Aeneas

Janet Baker (Dido), Peter Pears (Aeneas), Norma Burrowes (Belinda), Anna Reynolds (Sorceress), Felicity Lott (Second Woman), Robert Tear (Sailor), Timothy Everett (Spirit)

Aldeburgh Festival Strings, London Opera Chorus, Steuart Bedford


Decca - Double Decca - 4685612

(CD - 2 discs)

$16.75

(Sorry, download not available in your country)

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Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas


Lynne Dawson (Dido), Rosemary Joshua (Belinda), Susan Bickley (Sorceress), Gerald Finley (Aeneas), Dominique Visse (First Witch), Stephen Wallace (Second Witch), Maria Cristina Kiehr (Second Woman), Robin Blaze (Spirit)

Clare College Chapel Choir, Members of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, René Jacobs

Building a Library

First Choice - September 2001

Early Music - up to 25% off

Harmonia Mundi - HMC901683

(CD)

Normally: $17.00

Special: $14.45

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas


Reissued to mark Sir Colin Davis's 80th birthday, this sublime Philips recording of Dido and Aeneas makes a welcome return to the catalogue. The honeyed sound of its protagonists - Josephine Veasey (whom Sir Colin also chose as the Dido for his recording of Berlioz's Les Troyens) and John Shirley-Quirk - is offset by a chaste-sounding Helen Donath and a superbly characterised Sorceress from Bainbridge.

“fresh and enjoyable” Penguin Guide

Australian Eloquence - ELQ4428334

(CD)

$11.25

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

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