what’s wrong with Dido?

I’ve been spending the entire week listening now to 2 versions of Purcell’s Dido, and finally decided to check on the text because, especially with E.Haïm’s version (previous post), the mood is so cheerful until when Dido shows up! (What’s with all these talks about her dying at the end? who is killing her??)

Ignore my lack of history knowledge for a moment, this sounds strikingly similar to Penelope’s story! The background all-out “partying” versus foreground “oh, i suffering, nobody feels my pain”. So, let’s combine some “facts” we have learned so far from Berlioz’ “Les Troyens” and Purcell’s “Aeneas and Dido” (and Stray’s opera-history tutorial) to build up the a story 😀 :

a) Aeneas fled Troy (leaving all the poor women to die! bastard! courageous Cassandra to the “rescue”!
b) Dido is the queen of Cartharge. Her husband died some years ago, she’s still insisting she needs no man (right, why does she need another?) Her single sister, Belinda here, is given some GREAT music to keep her cheerful (she should be rewarded for her positive attitude!)

c) Aeneas showed up in Cartharge and made a move on Dido. Here I already have 2 questions:
c.1: What’s wrong with Dido?

Peace and I are strangers grown.
I languish till my grief is known,

I quite love the text, so poetic, but wow, total mood killer!
c.2: Why doesn’t her sister simply agree that ok Dido can remain faithful to her dead spouse and she would hang out with Aeneas instead? Since I already have pretty low opinion of this guy, it’s understandable why he’d skip a cheerful woman like Belinda to chase after “fame” with the grieving queen! (But didn’t Belinda in fact stalk him to Italy in the end? May be to revenge for turning her land upside down? ) In any case, she (Belinda) spent all her energy cheering her sister on. Let’s enjoy another piece of her glorious music (the harpsichord = E.Haïm!!)

Pursue thy my conquest, Love; her my eyes
Confess the flame her my tongue denies.

d) so after frowning she (Dido) gave in and had a 1-night fling with Aeneas, after which he decided it was time for the next conquest (Italy!, sure, “blame” the goddess for ordering him, pathetic! 😀 )
Onto my next question: Given whichever time this was, couldn’t “kingdom” be moved? Why not just uproot her people and move them along to Italy? Otherwise, since she’s going be lovesick and crying and dying on her own here, what good would that do to her own people?

e) In any case, she stayed, and KICKED Aeneas’ behind off her land, only to lay down and die. HARK! (from now on i’ll use this when i mean “ah”,”yes”,”what”,”argh” 🙂 )
You didn’t think I’d leave the post without providing you a clip of ACA tossing aside Aeneas, did you? Though in this case Aeneas is sung by a mezzo (our Roméo from Liege)!! She (Dido) could have really negotiated better!

Dido: No, faithless (wo)man, thy course pursue; I’m now resolv’d as well as you…
AENEAS: Let Jove say what he will: I’ll stay!
Dido: Away, away! No, no, away!
AENEAS: No, no, I’ll stay, and Love obey!
Dido: Away, away!…..

About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

3 Responses to what’s wrong with Dido?

  1. stray says:

    re question D, I think the Carthaginians can’t abandon Carthage because later Hannibal has to come from there and invade Rome with elephants n’ stuff.

    On the other hand, if Dido had gone, she might have realized that Aeneas is really pretty tiresome, and she could then have joined up with Queen Whats-her-name and the warrior Camilla to defeat the invading Trojan remnant, thus making the history of Rome way more interesting.

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