Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

This page lists all recordings of Dido and Aeneas, by Henry Purcell (1659-95) on CD, SACD, 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
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September 2001
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September 2001
Editor's Choice
February 2009
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Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Original 1973 quadraphonic recording by Philips Classics, remastered in 2015


When Henry Purcell wrote his one and only opera Dido and Aeneas in the second half of the seventeenth century, there was no existing opera tradition in England. With a libretto based on Virgil’s Aeneid and its music stylistically close to and derived from the typically English ‘Masque’ form (a festive courtly entertainment involving music, dancing, singing and acting, within an elaborate stage design) Purcell created a monumental baroque opera. Dido and Aeneas is considered by many to be the most important opera to appear between Claudio Monteverdi’s L'incoronazione di Poppea and W.A. Mozart’s later masterpieces. Still today it is widely performed and its most famous aria Henry Purcell ‘When I am lead in earth’ (Dido’s lament) arguably can be counted amongst some of the most famous opera arias ever.

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Summer Opera Sale

Pentatone Remastered Classics - PTC5186230

(SACD)

Normally: $14.25

Special: $12.82

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Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas


Rachael Lloyd (Dido), Elin Manahan Thomas (Belinda), Robert Davies (Aeneas), Roderick Morris (Sorceress), Eloise Irving (Second Woman/First Witch/Spirit), Jenni Harper (Second Witch), Miles Golding (Sailor)

Armonico Consort, Christopher Monks

Purcell’s ever-green chamber opera Dido & Aeneas, its story drawn from Virgil’s epic, the Aeneid, is performed by the Armonico Consort with an enchanting selection of soloists, including Rachael Lloyd, Robert Davies & Elin Manahan Thomas.

Armonico Consort is one of the largest and most innovative organisations of its kind in the UK, existing to inspire audiences with its unique programmes.

“lithe, colourful, tastefully phrased and dynamically astute playing...[the cast] sing compellingly and inhabit their roles with the same sensitivity that distinguishes the whole performance.” The Telegraph, 24th May 2015 ****

“This account has likeable soloists..., a fine chorus (though “Great minds” and “With drooping wings” are too slow) and a lively band. One-string-to-a-part weakens passages like the end of “Oft she visits”, but brings out Purcell’s expressive part-writing.” Sunday Times, 24th May 2015

“a fine performance should magic up a sense of epic. Christopher Monks and his Armonico Consort almost manage to. This is a clean, uncluttered account featuring crystalline voices, good diction, safe tempos and well-defined phrasing...vocal ensembles are luminous and the instrumental playing is bright and streamlined. Best of all is Rachael Lloyd’s dignified Dido, rich-voiced, poetic and flawlessly delivered.” The Guardian, 4th June 2015 ***

“The Armonico Consort and its musical director, Christopher Monks, capture this abundance of inspiration in a performance full of life and variety...Rachael Lloyd’s dignified Dido and Elin Manahan Thomas’s bright Belinda are well contrasted.” Financial Times, 20th June 2015 ***

“There's a lot going for this newcomer. The scale is modest...The playing is wonderfully vital...The soloists are equally fine. Bright-toned Elin Manahan Thomas is well cast as Belinda...Roderick Morris is pleasingly unexaggerated as a countertenor Sorceress...Rachael Lloyd - lovesick, imperious, resigned - is an excellent Dido, her famous Lament no less effective for being restrained.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2015

“This new recording, with a cast of youthful, fresh-voiced soloists and an ingenuous approach, recaptures the spirit of the first known performance in a Chelsea boarding school for 'young gentlewomen'…Rachel Lloyd makes a graceful Dido…Christopher Monks's fleet direction and wispy instrumental playing enhance the all-pervasive dance rhythms.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2015

Summer Opera Sale

Signum - SIGCD417

(CD)

Normally: $13.25

Special: $10.60

(also available to download from $10.00)

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Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas


Emily Van Evera (Dido), Ben Parry (Aeneas), Janet Lax (Belinda), Haden Andrews (Sorceress), Hanne Mari Ørbaek

Taverner Choir & Players, Andrew Parrott

AVIE continues to mine the rich catalog of recordings made by Andrew Parrott and his Taverner Choir & Players with a sumptuous reissue of Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas. The performance is as fresh as when the recording was made in 1994, with baritone Ben Parry as the Trojan hero Aeneas, and soprano Emily Van Evera as the abandoned Queen of Carthage, delivering an interpretation of Dido’s Lament that is as dignified as it is sublime.

“Tempos are not particularly brisk but the playing is throughout fresh and vivid...the whole ensemble, down to Douglas Wootton’s down-to-earth entertaining Sailor and the charming enchantresses, is superb.” MusicWeb International, 4th December 2014

“This re-issue of the 1994 recording is certainly idiosyncratic but there is much to like, starting with the Taverner Players (led by Andrew Manze) who locate a strain of sad nostalgia right from the beginning and hold onto it in an elegant, expressive performance.” Opera Now ***

Avie - AV2309

(CD)

$14.25

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Purcell: Dido and Aeneas & Masques

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas & Masques


Purcell:

Dido and Aeneas

Mary Thomas (Dido), Maurice Bevan (Aeneas), Honor Sheppard (Belinda, First Witch, First Woman), Helen Watts (Sorceress), Robert Tear (Spirit/Sailor)

Masques from Dioclesian & Timon of Athens

Alfred Deller (countertenor), Honor Sheppard (soprano), Sally Lesage (soprano), Philip Todd (tenor), Max Worthey (tenor), Maurice Bevan (bass)


Vanguard Classics - 9100985

(CD - 2 discs)

$10.50

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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)

$6.25

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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)

$8.00

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Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London on 3rd & 8th April 2009.


Sarah Connolly (Dido), Lucas Meachem (Aeneas), Lucy Crowe (Belinda), Sara Fulgoni (Sorceress), Anita Watson (Second Woman), Eri Nakamura (First Witch), Pumeza Matshikiza (Second Witch), Iestyn Davies (Spirit), Ji-Min Park (Sailor)

Dancers of The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera Extra Chorus & Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Christopher Hogwood (conductor) & Wayne McGregor (stage director)

The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera join forces for Wayne McGregor’s acclaimed fusion of music and movement, whose richly layered designs perfectly complement Purcell’s telling of a classical tale of love thwarted by evil powers. With Sarah Connolly and Lucas Meachem in the title roles, Christopher Hogwood conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Filmed with High Definition cameras and recorded in true surround sound.

BONUS MATERIAL

Illustrated synopsis & cast gallery.

Interview with Wayne McGregor.

‘Dido is perfectly integrated, and the expressively stylised movements that McGregor has devised for the singers make a fascinating contrast to the gyrations of the corps de ballet. …The casts were excellent. [Sarah Connolly] struck gold with a heartbreaking account of "When I am laid". The sensitivity of her acting and her intense musicality was striking throughout. Lucy Crowe made a delightful Belinda, with Lucas Meachem a quarterback hunk of an Aeneas. The young ad hoc chorus sang beautifully.’ The Telegraph

Picture 1080i High Definition / 16:9 Sound 2.0 & 5.1 PCM

Video codec AVC/MPEG-4 Disc size BD25 Menu language EN Subtitles EN/FR/DE/ES/IT

Region code All regions Running time 72 mins Dimensions W135 H170 D12 (mm)

“The wide open spaces and minimalist designs contrive a vast universe against which a very intimate human tragedy can be teased out, presented with an almost classical purity and restraint. Lucy Crowe is a seductive Belinda, with Sara Fulgoni equally compelling as the Sorceress, and under Christopher Hogwood's shapely musical direction the score engorges the amplitude of the Opera House without... any illuminating period pertinence. ...Sarah Connolly embraces the fateful trajectory towards suicide with almost unbearable intensity.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2010 ****

“thanks to the film director Jonathan Haswell it works better there than in the theatre...Belinda is unaffectedly played by Lucy Crowe, her bright tones and precise articulation all one could desire. Sarah Connolly, whether tormented by love or grief, is an equally ideal Dido...Definitely worth investigating.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2010

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

Summer Opera Sale

Opus Arte Royal Opera House Collection - OABD7049D

(Blu-ray)

Normally: $28.25

Special: $22.60

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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)

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

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

“it is hard to imagine a better Dido than Sarah Connolly. The role suits her voice perfectly, and with her clear diction, tasteful ornamentation and technical precision it is executed perfectly as well. But what comes across even more powerfully than all this is her understanding of the part...The rest of the cast is equally outstanding.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 2nd February 2009

Presto Disc of the Week

2nd February 2009

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2009

Summer Opera Sale

Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0757

(CD)

Normally: $14.25

Special: $12.11

(also available to download from $10.00)

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Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas


Ann Murray (Dido), Anton Scharinger (Aeneas), Trudeliese Schmidt (Sorceress),

Rachel Yakar (Belinda)

Concentus Musicus Wien, Nikolaus Harnoncourt

“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)

$8.50

(also available to download from $5.00)

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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 & DG Half Price Sale

Decca - Double Decca - 4685612

(CD - 2 discs)

Normally: $13.00

Special: $6.50

(Sorry, download not available in your country)

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