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Purcell: Dido and Aeneas - Milanesi/Helm/Bonizzoni

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas - Milanesi/Helm/Bonizzoni

Challenge Classics  CC 72737

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Opera


Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

Raffaella Milanesi (Dido)
Richard Helm (Aeneas)
Stefanie True (Belinda)
Iason Marmaras (Sorceress)
Michela Antenucci (First witch & Sailor)
Anna Bessi (Second witch & Spirit)
Coro Constanzo Porta
La Risonanza
Fabio Bonizzoni (conductor)


Fabio Bonizzoni: The charm of this opera is in that it contains everything, like Cervantes’ Don Quixote: any life experience is within it. Love, hate, death, dream, despair, the innocent and the wicked play.

Purcell’s awareness in portraying such opposite feelings is amazing as well as the room that he leaves to the conductor. So, here is why a new “Dido”: as an artist, as an artist in love with this opera, I want to deliver my reading; better: I want to translate Purcell’s “sign” my own way, how much this opera is alive, lively, modern, contemporary. How Purcell’s genius was able to convey Dido’s despair and Aeneas’ cowardice and how much Purcell himself had fun in depicting the plot.

And the choir! Probably it is really the main character of the opera, the sounding board for the most extreme feelings. The relatively scant material is what allows the conductor’s imagination to take flight, to get touched, to devise how feelings can be described in music. Such ‘creative’ experience, to wake up the audience from the ruling emotional and intellectual numbness is what gives meaning to our job. “Dido” teaches there’s no need of special effects: life itself is a special effect, is a wonderful journey made of tragedy and joy, love and hate.

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Comment by Joseph Ponessa - November 14, 2017 (1 of 1)

This disc ends with several tracks of music from the masque "The Loves of Mars and Venus," composed by John Eccles and Gottfried Finger. Finger did not arrive in London until about 1685, according to the New Grove Dictionary of Opera, so this masque cannot date from 1680 as the track list indicates (contradicted by the program notes). Eccles and Finger were only twenty years old in 1680, and lived in different countries! No, the masque comes from about 1696. These musical pieces are joined with Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas" because the two works were performed together at least once, in 1704. The prologue to "Dido and Aeneas" is missing, and so the addition of music from the masque fleshes out that work. However, the juxtaposition of material does not show Eccles to advantage; Purcell was the greatest English composer, and "Dido and Aeneas" the great English-language opera. The conductor Bonizzoni gives something of an Italian feel to it, but then Purcell was certainly under the influence of nearly a century of Italian operatic development. Cavalli had already made an opera on the Dido theme some sixty years before.