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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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.

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Super Audio CD

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Hybrid Multi-channel

Up to 25% off Pentatone

Pentatone Remastered Classics - PTC5186230

(SACD)

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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

Up to 30% off Signum

Signum - SIGCD417

(CD)

Normally: $15.00

Special: $11.25

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Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas


Vivica Genaux (Dido), Henk Neven (Æneas), Ana Quintans (Belinda) & Marc Mauillon (Sorceress, Marin)

Vincent Dumestre (conductor) & Stéphane Vérité (director)

Cécile ROUSSAT & Julien LUBEK Staging, Choregraphy, Set, Costumes

Laurent CASTAINGT Lights

After the success of the DVDs devoted to Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and Cadmus & Hermione, Vincent Dumestre and Le Poème Harmonique continue their exploration of repertoires of the 17th century.

This piece, combining theatre and music, allowed Purcell to achieve his dramatic ideal. In fact, he wrote only a single opera in his short career – he died at the age of 36 –, but with it, he left us a gem of rare beauty and extreme concision. The work’s genius is also due in part to the quality of the libretto, skilfully put together by Nahum Tate.

Cécile Roussat and Julien Lubek, stage directors coming from the arts of the circus and the mime Marceau, had already collaborated with Le Poème Harmonique on the Carnaval Baroque. Here, they combine mime, dance and acrobatics with the music in a moving, magical production.

“Despite a largely Francophone cast, and Genaux's faint North American accent, the text is brilliantly clear. Ana Quintans's Belinda and Jenny Daviet's Second Woman are brightly characterised...Dumestre favours slow tempos in the laments, artfully sustained by Genaux. The final image of the dying queen is stunning.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2015 ****

“a strongly convincing and stylish performance from the cast led by the dark but clear voiced Vivica Genaux as a handsome, vulnerable Dido...Ana Quintan's Belinda offers bright support, providing, as she should, much of the work's forward energy...sensual richness is also the main virtue of the production.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2015

DVD Video

Region: 0

Alpha - ALPHA706

(DVD Video)

$32.75

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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)

$16.25

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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)

$11.75

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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)

$7.00

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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)

$9.00

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Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas


Simone Kermes (Dido), Dimitris Tiliakos (Aeneas), Deborah York (Belinda), Oleg Ryabets (Sorceress), Margarita Mezentseva, Sofia Fomina, Yana Mamonova, Elena Kondratova, Valeria Safonova & Alexandre Zverev

New Siberian Singers (chamber choir of the Novosibirsk State Academic Opera & Ballet Theatre) & MusicAeterna, Teodor Currentzis

"We tend to think we know everything and live with our comfortable prejudices and routines as indeed it is easier to acknowledge than to discover. Thus fared Baroque music; it was rediscovered by the middle of the twentieth century, retrieved by investigative and passionate souls from the oblivion in which it had been precipitated in the holy name of Progress. Not unlike ideas, however, music is very dependent on individual attitudes. It is not felt or interpreted in France or The Netherlands as in Italy or Spain and over the last few years we've been blessed by a surprisingly wide variety of savours and colours reflecting the schools and the temperament of the various interpreters. Alpha, who's calling it is to follow and reveal artistic diversity, release the first recording of the MusicAeterna from Novosibirsk, conducted by Teodor Currentzis: a lively illustration of a new approach emanating from an alternative perspective. For citizens of London,Amsterdam or Paris, Dido & Aeneas is a civilised, slightly watered-down court opera. Seen from Siberia however, it is an intolerably tense and purifying ritual drama, rooted in the sacred origins of tragedy.What you will hear has no relation to the 'conventional' stylistic consensus governing the small world of ancient music. Here the East takes 18th-century baroque by storm, giving the myth of Carthage's Queen a weight and a sensuality which we're not used to. To sum up : a real performance, in the ancient and truly philosophical meaning of the work." Jean-Paul Combet, founder and artistic director, Alpha

“Currentzis reminds us that this is, first and foremost, an opera about desire, and offers us something at once sexier and more probingly tragic. MusicAeterna's playing doesn't have the OAE's refinement, but is infinitely warmer in sound and far more energetically committed. Dido - a soprano here, rather than the usual mezzo - is the remarkable Simone Kermes, whose subtly inflected singing exposes disquieting emotional extremes. There's a palpable erotic charge between her and Dimitris Taliakos's moody Aeneas, so that we understand completely why Dido's world becomes meaningless without him.” The Guardian, 13th February 2009

Alpha - ALPHA140

(CD)

$16.25

(also available to download from $10.00)

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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

Chandos Chaconne - CHAN0757

(CD)

$16.25

(also available to download from $10.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

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)

$9.50

(also available to download from $5.00)

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

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