Purcell - Dido & Aeneas / Maria Ewing, Karl Daymond, Collegium Musicum 90
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Dido: MARIA EWING
Aeneas: KARL DAYMOND
Belinda: REBECCA EVANS
Sorceress: SALLY BURGESS
Second Woman: PATRICIA ROZARIO
First Enchantress: MARY PLAZAS
Second Enchantress: PAMELA HELEN STEPHEN
Aeneas' Lieutenant: JAMIE MCDOUGALL
Mercury: FRANÇOIS TESTORY
Voice Of Mercury: JAMES BOWMAN
Conductor: RICHARD HICKOX
Director: PETER MANIURA
Purcell's much-loved tragic opera is an intense tale of heroism, passion, betrayal and ultimate tragedy, played out against a backdrop of fiery rituals, evil spells and pageantry. It was filmed entirely on location at Hampton Court House, England, where spectacular settings are created in the house and grounds.
Dido, Queen of Carthage, and Prince Aeneas, a fugitive lately arrived in her realm after the fall of Troy, fall in love; Dido's confidante Belinda urges her to yield to his suit, and they go off on a hunting party which, as a seventeenth-century audience would readily have understood, symbolises Aeneas's sexual capture of Dido. Meanwhile, skulking in the gloom of a cave, an evil Sorceress and her Enchantresses (an addition of Tate's not found in Virgil) plot to destroy Dido by conjuring up a false vision of Mercury to send Aeneas on his way; this is duly done when the hunting party is scattered by a sudden thunderstorm. Soon afterwards, as the Trojan mariners prepare to set sail, the Sorceress and Enchantresses arrive at the quayside to gloat; Dido upbraids Aeneas for his faithlessness and furiously dismisses him but after he has left she dies, broken-hearted, in Belinda's arms.
The dramatic power of the piece is complemented by its musical riches, which are shared among all the individual singers and the various colourful groups: urbane courtiers, gleefully malignant witches, salty mariners portrayed by the chorus.
Dido & Aeneas is not only one of the most perfect operas ever written but also an ideal opera for television. The extreme dramatic compression of its plot, which is one of the few grounds on which it is open to criticism, is even an advantage in film terms. Cinema and television audiences are extremely familiar with fast cutting, rapid plot development and the emotional twists and turns of much contemporary drama. A classical tragedy compressed into just under one hour is thus not as implausible as it might at first appear.
The location, Hampton Court House, is an empty mid-eighteenth century mansion with its own, slightly decayed, formal gardens and grounds. Ancient Carthage on the coast of North Africa, the setting for the story, was a trading city and a melting pot of nations. Niek Kortekaas, the designer, decided to create a rich yet primitive world, lit by fire (for which there are many references both literal and metaphorical in the text) in which Dido's court draws together elements of many cultures and traditions fusing them into a society dominated by ritual and pageantry
The challenge of working on film was a new one for most of the cast and it allowed a great subtlety in the vocal performances since the artists did not have to worry about projecting their performances into an auditorium. Magnetic performers like Maria Ewing were able to relish intimate effects which would not have registered in an opera house. Equally the tight focus of film work with its close-ups and reaction shots called for a style of acting quite different from that employed in a theatre and one which the cast embraced with great enthusiasm. I hope that this film captures both the personal intimacy and the public tragedy which lie at the heart of Purcell's great masterpiece. Peter Maniura
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top customer reviews
Great sets, excellent opera, and Maria Ewing's performance, again, is amazing.
Let me say, then, that I think this is an excellent filmed production of Purcell's miniature masterpiece. The director, Peter Maniura, manages to be at once traditional and imaginative in setting this Virgilian tragic love story of ancient Carthage within the confines of the eighteenth-century Hampton Court House. To liven this elegant, stately background, Maniura makes particularly good use of fire as a persistent motif, whether in the blazing torches celebrating the lovers' public acknowledgement of their mutual passion, or the fiery engulfment of the exterior of the house to indicate both the end of the brief affair and the accompanying fall of Carthage, or the final conflagration of the funeral pyre which consumes the body of the tragic queen who has died of thwarted love. The two principals, Maria Ewing and Karl Daymond, are both attractive and convincingly wrapped up in one another's longing gazes, so as to make their tempestuous passion compelling. Maniura even manages to make the Sorceress and her cackling demonic followers, so oddly (and potentially comically) discordant with Virgil's classical narrative, into genuinely fearsome and formidable figures. All this, plus a stirring rendition of Purcell's lovely score, makes for an entrancing and moving production which more than makes up, Mr. Bruno notwithstanding, for the lack of dancing and liner notes.
Sad to say, ths biggest liability in the cast is Ewing (a singer I usually admire)as Dido. The production is, of course, dubbed. One is most aware of the lip synching with Ewing, probably most most seasoned professional in the cast. The other singers are more convincing in pretending to be singing and there are several truly outstanding voices in the cast. Anneas has a well produced lyric baritone (I don't agree with another reviewer's critique) and looks very handsome though clearly too young for the role. The first sorcerous, Sally Burgess, is outstanding with a melting mezzo and incredible phrasing. Why have we not heard more about this great singer?
Hickock has conducted this piece many times but he really seems to be dragging the tempos in the last scenes. Had Ewing been a bit more involved the ending might not have seemed so lifeless (no pun intended).
I also question the need for the nearly graphic sexuality during the "Come Away, Fellow Sailors" number. It seems that modern directors don't trust either the music or the story. They must feel that no one will pay attention if their direction is not suggestive enough. At least in this production half the cast did not carry rifles and guns.
Too bad this is the only game in town for this classic opera. It's unquestionably sumptuous visually but pretty bland as a representation of this glorious music
Most recent customer reviews
all is ok
Set up an Amazon Giveaway
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Look for similar items by category
- CDs & Vinyl > Classical
- CDs & Vinyl > Opera & Classical Vocal
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Arts & Entertainment
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Performing Arts
- Movies & TV > Genre for Featured Categories > Special Interests
- Movies & TV > Independently Distributed > Drama
- Movies & TV > Musicals & Performing Arts > Classical
- Movies & TV > Musicals & Performing Arts > Opera
- Movies & TV > TV