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The Queen of Carthage

Opera details:

Opera title:

Dido and Aeneas


Henry Purcell




Dido and Aeneas Synopsis


Dido and Aeneas Libretto



Aria details:









Previous scene: Harm's our delight
Next scene: Ho ho ho

PURCELL • Dido & Aeneas • Z.626 [William Christie 1986 version]

HENRY PURCELL -•1659 † 1695•-
DIDO & ÆNEAS [Z.626] Tragic Opera in (a Prologue)Three Acts, 1689 or earlier.
LIBRETTO by Nahum Tate [1652 † 1715], after his play Brutus of Alba and Virgil's Aeneid.
First performance at Josias Priest's School in Chelsea, London, before December 1689, with a possible earlier performance as a Court Masque in 1684.

DIDO, Queen of Carthage, (also known as Eliza): Guillemette LAURENS, mezzo-soprano
BELINDA, her first Lady-in-Waiting: Jill FELDMAN, soprano,
THE SORCERESS: Dominique VISSE, countertenor
SPIRIT: Michel LAPLENIE, tenor
AENEAS, a Trojan Prince: Philippe CANTOR, baryton - bass

-• ENSEMBLE: Les Arts Florissants, Orchestra and Choir
Direction: William Christie

00:05 • OVERTURE (Adagio - Allegro)

-• ACT I •-
01:53, Shake the cloud from off your brow [Belinda] Banish Sorrow, Banish Care [Chorus]
02:55, Ah Belinda, I am press'd with torment [Dido]
06:33, Grief increases by concealing [Belinda, Dido] When monarchs unite, how happy their state [Chorus]
07:16, Whence could so much virtue spring? [Dido, Belinda]
09:11, Fear no danger to ensue [Belinda, Chorus]
10:44, See our royal guest appears [Belinda, Aeneas] Cupid only throws the dart [Chorus]
11:54, If not for mine, for Empire's sake [Aeneas] Pursue thy conquest, Love [Belinda] To the hills [Chorus]
14:10, The Triumphing Dance

-• ACT II •-
15:21, Prelude for the Witches: Wayward sisters, you that fright [Sorceress] Harm's our delight [Chorus]
17:35, The Queen of Carthage ... Ho! ho! ho! [Sorceress, First Witch, Chorus]
19:31, But e're we this perform [First Witch, Second Witch]
20:43, In our deep vaulted cell... Echo Dance of Furies [Chorus]
22:49, Ritornelle - Thanks to these lonesome vales [Belinda, Chorus]
26:24, Oft she visits this lone mountain [Second Woman]
28:20, Behold upon my bending spear [Aeneas, Dido] Haste, haste to town [Belinda, Chorus]
29:34, Stay Prince [Spirit, Aeneas]
31:38, Then since our chorus have sped [Chorus] The Grove's Dance

-• ACT III •-
33:07, Come away [Sailor, Chorus] The Sailors' Dance
35:27, See, see the flags [Sorceress, First Witch] Our next motion [Sorceress]
37:08, Destruction's our delight [Chorus]
The Witches Dance
39:15, Your counsel all is urged in vain [Dido, Belinda, Aeneas]
42:50, Great minds against themselves conspire [Chorus]
43:46,Thy hand, Belinda [Dido]
44:57, When I am laid in earth [Dido]
48:47, With drooping wings [Chorus]

-• END •-

Dido, the widowed Queen of Carthage, entertains the Trojan Prince Aeneas, shipwrecked on his way to Italy, where he will found a new Troy. Dido and Aeneas are in love. Witches plot Dido’s destruction and the Sorceress conjures a storm, to break out when the royal couple are hunting, and the impersonation of Mercury by one of her coven. The storm duly breaks and the courtiers hasten back to town, while the false Mercury tells Aeneas he must leave Dido and sail for Italy. Aeneas and his sailors prepare to leave, to the delight of the witches. Aeneas parts from Dido, who kills herself once he has gone, her death lamented by mourning cupids.

Some scholars argue for a date of composition as early at 1684. The story is based on Book IV of Virgil's Aeneid. It has been plausibly suggested that Purcell's short Opera 'Dido and Aeneas' was originally designed as a Court Masque, and possible topical political allusions have been proposed, notably in the light of the future James II's Catholicism, seen to deflect him from his duty as a future king, a hypothetical intrigue that casts the Jesuits as witches. The work owes something to John Blow’s Venus and Adonis of 1683. Most famous of all elements in the Opera is Dido's lament, 'When I am laid in earth', with its descending ground bass borrowed from current Venetian practice.

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The Queen of Carthage, whom we hate,
As we do all in prosp'rous state,
Ere sunset, shall most wretched prove,
Depriv'd of fame, of life and love!

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Full English translation Dido and Aeneas

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