Dido and Aeneas (Z. 626) is an opera in a prologue and three acts, written by the English Baroque composer Henry Purcell with a libretto by Nahum Tate. The dates of the composition and first performance of the opera are uncertain. It was composed no later than July 1688, and had been performed at Josias Priest's girls' school in London by the end of 1689. Some scholars argue for a date of composition as early as 1683. The story is based on Book IV of Virgil's Aeneid. It recounts the love of Dido, Queen of Carthage, for the Trojan hero Aeneas, and her despair when he abandons her. A monumental work in Baroque opera, Dido and Aeneas is remembered as one of Purcell's foremost theatrical works. It was also Purcell's only true opera, as well as his only all-sung dramatic work. One of the earliest known English operas, it owes much to John Blow's Venus and Adonis, both in structure and in overall effect.
The influence of Cavalli's opera Didone is also apparent. Both works use the prologue/three acts format and there are similarities between, for instance, Mercury's solo in Didone and the solo "Come away fellow sailors" in Purcell's work.
Performances & Interviews
- Watch an analysis of Purcell's Dido and Aeneashttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01yyhsr.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01yyhsr.jpg2014-05-12T12:34:00.000ZWatch Stephen Johnson's analysis of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas with Nicholas Kraemer.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p01yyhzs
Watch an analysis of Purcell's Dido and AeneasWatch Stephen Johnson's analysis of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas with Nicholas Kraemer.
- Glorious Purcell from Phantasm, performed live in the studiohttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03lj9p1.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p03lj9p1.jpg2016-03-04T17:45:00.000ZPurcell's Fantasia No 6 in F major, Z.737, live on In Tunehttps://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p03ljdkf
Glorious Purcell from Phantasm, performed live in the studioPurcell's Fantasia No 6 in F major, Z.737, live on In Tune
- Purcell: Dido and Aeneashttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p020c3bx.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p020c3bx.jpg2014-06-04T16:11:00.000ZStephen Johnson and Nicholas Kraemer examine Purcell's Dido and Aeneas.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/p020c3d7
Purcell: Dido and AeneasStephen Johnson and Nicholas Kraemer examine Purcell's Dido and Aeneas.
- Dido's Lamenthttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01gpd6b.jpghttps://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/240x135/p01gpd6b.jpg2010-03-09T13:30:00.000ZExploring what Henry Purcell's aria, from his 17th century opera Dido and Aeneas, means to different people. From March 2010.https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/audiovideo/popular/b00r6029
Dido's LamentExploring what Henry Purcell's aria, from his 17th century opera Dido and Aeneas, means to different people. From March 2010.