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date: 29 January 2020

Didon(i)locked

  • Caroline Wood

Extract

(‘Dido’). Tragédie en musique in a prologue and five acts by to a libretto by Henry Desmarets to a libretto by louise-geneviève gillot, Dame de Saintonge ; Paris, Opéra, 11 September (?5 June) 1693.

Dido (soprano), the widowed Queen of Carthage, about to marry Enée [Aeneas] (haute-contre), confides her doubts to her sister Anne (soprano). Jupiter promises to intervene on behalf of his son Iarbas (bass), rejected by Dido; Venus is equally vigilant over her son Aeneas. Dido persuades Aeneas to disobey the gods’ command to leave, brought by Mercury; but in a storm, Mercury reappears and Aeneas finally decides he must go. Dido has his belongings burnt and, haunted by the reproaches of the ghost of her first husband, kills herself. Among the work’s five major soliloquy scenes is one for Aeneas; in allowing us some insight into his dilemma, Didon can be said to present a more rounded picture than Purcell’s ...

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