Notes and Editorial Reviews
There have been plenty of fine recordings of Purcell’s gem of an opera Dido and Aeneas, but let’s face it, the work hangs on the character of Dido, and no one, but no one, had the vocal artistry to portray noble suffering like Janet Baker. It was her specialty, and Dido was one of her great roles. No one sang Dido’s Lament as affectingly, and she’s surrounded by an excellent supporting cast, including Patricia Clark as the loyal Belinda, the young Raimund Herincx as Aeneas, and perhaps best of all, Monica Sinclair as the Sorceress leading some aptly rowdy witches. Sinclair is probably best known for her Gilbert and Sullivan recordings (Ruth, Buttercup, Katisha–all the evil altos), and she brings her comic experience in character roles to
bear with excellent results.
I know there will be some who prefer to hear the orchestral part played on period instruments, but Anthony Lewis conducts with no lack of energy. Thurston Dart, who published the Purcell Society Edition of the work, plays an excellent continuo harpsichord. The strings of the English Chamber Orchestra bring plenty of color and atmosphere, while the chorus participates fully in the proceedings. Besides, Purcell’s vocal writing is timeless; there’s no issue of countertenors taking over from castratos, or other weirdnesses of casting that need to be worked around. The music sounds just fine using normal, modern voices. Recorded in 1962, the sonics have held up very well in an intimate work that, after all, places no great strain on the engineers. Most Purcell fans will own several recordings of this piece, but if you’re just starting out then this is the place to begin.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Dido and Aeneas, Z 626 by Henry Purcell
Catherine Wilson (Soprano),
Dame Janet Baker (Alto),
Patricia Clark (Soprano),
Eileen Poulter (Soprano),
Monica Sinclair (Alto),
Rhianon James (Soprano),
Raimund Herincx (Bass)
English Chamber Orchestra,
St. Anthony Singers
Written: 1689; England
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: Overture
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "Shake the clouds from off your brow"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "Ah! Belinda, I am prest"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "Whence could so much virtue spring?"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "Fear no danger"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 1: "See, your Royal Guest appears"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "Wayward sisters"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "Ruin'd ere the set of sun!"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: Ritornelle - "Thanks to these lonesome vales"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "Oft she visits"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "Behold, upon my bending spear"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 2: "Stay, Prince" - "Jove's commands shall be obey'd"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: Prelude - "Come away, fellow sailors" - Sailors' dance
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: "See the flags"-"Destruction's our delight-The Witches'
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: "Your counsel all is urged in vain"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: "But Death alas!".."When I am laid in earth"
Dido and Aeneas / Act 3: "With drooping wings"
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