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PURCELL: Dido & Aeneas (Royal Opera House)
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The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera join forces for Wayne McGregor's acclaimed fusion of music and movement, whose richly layered designs perfectly complement Purcell's telling of a classical tale of love thwarted by evil powers. With Sarah Connolly and Lucas Meachem in the title roles, Christopher Hogwood conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Filmed with High Definition cameras and recorded in true surround sound.
"The wide open spaces and minimalist designs contrive a vast universe against which a very intimate human tragedy can be teased out, presented with an almost classical purity and restraint." (BBC Music Magazine)
"Belinda is unaffectedly played by Lucy Crowe, her bright tones and precise articulation all one could desire. Sarah Connolly, whether tormented by love or grief, is an equally ideal Dido." (Gramophone)
Sarah Connolly (Dido)
Lucas Meachem (Aeneas)
Lucy Crowe (Belinda)
Sara Fulgoni (Sorceress)
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; Christopher Hogwood
Stage Director: Wayne McGregor
Catalogue Number: OA1018D
Date of Performance: 2009
Running Time: 72 minutes
Sound: 5.1 Half DTS; PCM Stereo
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic
Subtitles: EN, FR, DE, ES, IT
Label: Opus Arte
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But, this is really Sarah's show, in which she delivers an exquisitely crafted Dido, complete with puffy eyes to emphasize her turmoil. Her final aria "When I am laid in earth" is a thing of uncommon beauty, not only because of the tasteful and welcome ornamentation, but because of a phenomenal commitment to text. There is not one moment throughout her entire performance in the opera that doesn't display the ultimate in poise, talent and concentration.
With the exception of the chief sorceress, the other roles are ideally cast. Belinda (Lucy Crowe) is young, blonde and beautiful, and has a voice to match. The two witches are bound here as siamese twins and bring a bit of humor to the proceedings. So integral and expressive is the chorus that you welcome its every appearance.
The hidden treasure of this production, though, is the dancing. Director Wayne McGregor provides some powerful choreography that bridges the scene changes, comments on the action, and at times just takes your breath away. Members of the Royal Ballet provide the stage with visual electricity, elevating the dramatic experience to a whole new level.
The photos on the DVD box show a minimalist production that makes use of strange, colorless costumes, wide, empty spaces, and drab sets. But, don't be put off by those...what may seem sparing visually actually serves the opera's origins as a modest chamber work. Some color does find its way through, eventually.
Christopher Hogwood and the OAE not only provide ideal accompaniment, but set the tenor for unbridled success.