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CHAN 0757
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CHAN 0757

Purcell: Dido and Aeneas

The Classical Shop
release date: January 2009

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2008


Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Elizabeth Kenny

Steven Devine

Gerald Finley

baritone - Aeneas

William Purefoy

counter-tenor - Spirit

Sarah Connolly

mezzo-soprano - Dido

Patricia Bardon

mezzo-soprano - Sorceress

Lucy Crowe

soprano - Belinda

Carys Lane

soprano - First Witch and Chorus

Rebecca Outram

soprano - Second Witch and Chorus

Sarah Tynan

soprano - Second Woman

John Mark Ainsley

tenor - Sailor

Choir of the Enlightenment


St Silas The Martyr, Kentish Town, London


Rachel Smith


Ralph Couzens

Jonathan Cooper


Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos


Total Time - 69:32
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Dido and Aeneas

  An opera in three acts  
  Libretto by Nahum Tate  
1 Overture 2:04
  Act One  
2 'Shake the cloud from off your brow' 1:08
  Belinda, Chorus  
3 'Ah! Belinda I am prest with torment' - Air 6:40
4 'Grief increases by concealing' 0:50
  Belinda, Dido, Chorus  
5 'Whence could so much virtue spring?' 4:22
  Dido, Belinda, Second Woman, Chorus  
6 'See, your royal guest appears' 0:53
  Belinda, Aeneas, Dido, Chorus  
7 'Cupid only throws the dart' 0:40
8 'If not for mine, for Empire's sake' - 'Pursue they conquest, Love' 1:09
  Aeneas, Belinda  
9 Gittars Chacony 2:32
10 'To the hills and vales' 1:03
11 Triumphing Dance 1:26
  Act Two  
12 Prelude - 'Wayward sisters' - 'Harms our delight' 2:12
  Sorceress, Witches  
13 'The Queen of Carthage' - 'Ho ho ho!' 0:40
  Sorceress, Chorus  
14 'Ruin'd 'ere the set of sun?' - 'Ho ho ho!' 2:26
  Witches, Sorceress, Chorus  
15 'In our deep vaulted cell the charm we'll prepare' 1:19
16 Echo Dance of Furies 1:16
17 Ritornelle 0:50
18 'Thanks to these lonsome vales' 2:59
  Belinda, Chorus  
19 Gittars Passacaille 3:05
20 'Oft she visits this lone mountain' 1:47
  Second Woman  
21 'Behold, upon my bending spear' - 'Haste, haste to town' 1:22
  Aeneas, Belinda, Chorus, Dido  
22 'Stay, Prince, and hear great Jove's command' 2:38
  Spirit, Aeneas  
23 'Then since our charms have sped' - The Groves' Dance 1:31
  Act Three  
24 Prelude - 'Come away, fellow sailors' - The Sailors' Dance 2:17
  First Sailor, Chorus  
25 'See the flags and streamers curling' 1:02
  Sorceress, Witches  
26 'Our next motion' 1:16
  Sorceress, Chorus  
27 The Witches' Dance 1:22
28 Almand - 'Your counsel all is urg'd in vain' 7:47
  Dido, Belinda, Aeneas  
29 'Great minds against themselves conspire' 1:00
30 'Thy hand, Belinda, darkness shades me' - 'When I am laid in earth' 5:05
31 'With drooping wings ye Cupids come' 4:51
 Sarah Connolly mezzo-soprano - Dido
 Gerald Finley baritone - Aeneas
 Lucy Crowe soprano - Belinda
 Patricia Bardon mezzo-soprano - Sorceress
 William Purefoy counter-tenor - Spirit
 Sarah Tynan soprano - Second Woman
 John Mark Ainsley tenor - Sailor
 Carys Lane soprano - First Witch and Chorus
 Rebecca Outram soprano - Second Witch and Chorus
 Elizabeth Kenny
 Steven Devine
  23-25 June 2008  
Chandos’ featured release is a new recording of the first English operatic masterpiece, Purcell’s tragedy Dido and Aeneas. Starring Sarah Connolly, Gerald Finley, with the Orchestra and Choir of the Age of Enlightenment, it is released to commemorate the 350th anniversary of Purcell’s birth.

Directed from the keyboard by Steven Devine and Elizabeth Kenny as in recent concert performances, the ensemble presents the opera in a version that incorporates other dance works by Purcell, a version which Sarah Connolly performed at Teatro alla Scala in 2006.

There have been two revolutions in scholarly thinking about Dido and Aeneas and both had serious implications for historically inclined performers, and demand a creative response today. The musicological backdrop to this recording results in a performance closer to the court entertainment of Purcell’s day, in which musical dramas evolved from the English theatre tradition.

Sarah Connolly, the quintessential Dido of the early twenty-first century, has been the driving force behind this recording. She writes of the project, ‘It seems I have known Purcell’s Dido all my life and feel able to express myself in this music like no other… As a character, Dido fascinates me to the point of obsession’.

Connolly has performed with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on many occasions, including two productions at Glyndebourne – Giulio Cesare and St Matthew Passion – as well as Dido and Aeneas at the Proms, the South Bank Centre and Tetbury Festival. One recent review of Connolly’s Dido had the following to say: ‘It was the sheer depth of emotion Connolly infused in her portrayal of Dido that was truly remarkable. Emotion flowed off the stage from the intensity in her voice and through her actions. Her final aria, one of the most beautiful in English baroque music, brought a tear to the eye in a hall so quiet you could hear a pin drop… a moving portrayal of this tragic heroine’ (

This impressive performance by an extraordinary group of musicians makes for a significant addition to the catalogue. Sarah Connolly and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will perform Dido and Aeneas at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in March 2009.

“The care and love that has gone into this recording shines out from the very first notes.” “… All the cast, made of some of the finest British early music talent of our time, deliver the text brilliantly – not a word misses its mark, This is a definitive Dido and Aeneas, deserving of the highest praise.”

Ashutosh Khandekar

Early Music Today - August/September 2009

Played with poise and clarity that we have come to expect of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, this is a beautiful performance.
Opera Now

From the outset, Connolly exudes imposing presence, pathos and unassailable dignity; her Act III Lament consummates a deeply-felt empathy with the role… Purcell year will doubtless bring a crop of highly cherishable performances; Connolly’s Dido already sets the bar decidedly high.
BBC Music Magazine 'Choice'

Here is England’s first great opera presented with a truly cohesive sense of theatrical purpose, one which unusually allows the drama to unfold in a close identification with each of the cameo characters… we have a supremely wide-ranging, tragic and experienced queen from the start, inhabiting the shadows of ‘Ah! Belinda’ with early signs of deplorable fate, which are accentuated by an extended symphony luxuriating poignantly on this resonating conceit… Lucy Crow’s Belinda is a splendid foil for Connolly’s self-absorption, with her astute and increasingly desperate buoying up.
Gramophone Editor’s Choice

There are many recordings of Dido and Aeneas, and I am convinced that this one must rank among the finest. Sarah Connolly assembled the cast and played a major part in the artistic decisions, including the insertion of pieces of additional music. She brings to the role of Dido a regal gravity that is indispensable for a convincing portrayal… The success or failure of a performance of Dido can depend on the celebrated lament. Here Sarah Connolly takes a very slow tempo, but the dramatic tension and musical direction are never in jeopardy. It is an exquisitely eloquent reading.
American Record Guide

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