Libretto by Nahum Tate based on Book IV of Virgil’s Aeneid
Music Director and Conductor: Dmitri Jurowski
Author of artistic concept, Stage Director: Vyacheslav Starodubtsev
Set Designer: Timur Gulyaev
Costume Designer: Vyacheslav Starodubtsev
Lighting Designer: Sergei Skornetsky
Video content editor: Vadim Dulenko
Choreography and Stage Movement: Sergei Zakharin
Chief Chorus Master: Vyacheslav Podyelsky
Chorus Master: Sergei Tenitilov
Assistant Conductor: Eldar Nagiev
Assistant Stage Director: Nikolai Natsybulin
Assistant Costume Designer: Elena Oleynik
Assistant Choreographer: Anna Ryabukhina
Dido and Aeneas is one of the few old baroque operas included in the repertoire of the world’s biggest theatres. Written by an outstanding English composer Henry Purcell, this opera is considered the best piece of English music culture of XVII – XVIII centuries. Dido and Aeneas was designed for girls’ boarding schools and supposed to be performed by girls only. During the composer’s lifetime it was staged only once and hence, became almost forgotten. However, two hundred years later the opera was published, which saved it from doom and granted a chance for a new lease of life.
The plot is based on a Greek myth about Trojan hero Aeneas and Queen Dido of the Carthage. It truly is surprising how the young composer managed to imbue a rather small, chamber piece with thoroughly expressed feelings of the characters and create an image depicting the mystical ways of fate and the characters’ spiritual torments.
Dido is excited about sudden falling in love with Aeneas. Belinda is trying to soothe her mistress, the Queen of Carthage. However Dido has nothing to worry about, this love is mutual. Aeneas appears with his entourage. Trojan hero declares his feeling and asks for the Queen’s hand in marriage. The chorus chants the praises of love and overall joy.
Evil Sorceress and witches conspire against Dido and Aeneas to separate them and destroy the Carthage. They decide to send a spirit to Aeneas disguised as Mercury, who supposedly, brings a message with Jupiter’s will telling Aeneas to leave Carthage.
The two in love are not expecting anything bad to happen. They are taking rest in a grove after hunting; Aeneas is bragging with his prey. Suddenly the sky turns grey and the thunderstorm begins. Dido and her entourage leave to avoid the tempest. Aeneas is left all alone. The mysterious spirit disguised as Mercury appears to tell him that the warrior needs to leave Dido this very night, since his destiny is to found a great city. Aeneas is feeling sore about this, but in the end he obeys.
The sailors are getting ready to set sail from hospital Carthage. The Sorceress and her witches are gloating over this sight: their plan is about to be fulfilled.
Nothing can soothe Dido’s sorrow. She accepted her destiny; even when Aeneas suggests that he stays against the Gods’ will, she refuses and insists on his departure. Life means nothing to her without her love, so she decides to die. Sad, yet bright chorus concludes the opera chanting With drooping wings…