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date: 21 February 2020

Dido and Aeneaslocked

  • Curtis Price

Extract

Tragic opera in three acts by Henry Purcell to a libretto by Nahum Tate after the same poet’ s play Brutus of Alba and Virgil’s Aeneid; first known performance at a girls’ boarding school at Chelsea, before December 1689.

The only known performance during Purcell’s lifetime was at Chelsea, in a boarding school run by Josias Priest, a famous dancer and choreographer. This took place some time before December 1689, when Thomas D’Urfey’s spoken epilogue was published in his collection of New Poems. Allusions in both the prologue and epilogue suggest that the première probably happened in springtime, but the year is uncertain. On stylistic grounds, the opera could have been composed by 1685 or perhaps even earlier.

Nahum Tate based the libretto on his five-act tragedy Brutus of Alba, or The Enchanted Lovers (1678), which he had originally called ‘Dido and Aeneas’, and various translations of the fourth book of Virgil’s ...

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