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!…..

midweek music

must have! but i want the entire dvd session!!
nooo a cd won’t do! though it might :-), if the library has electronic version.

You know i’ve just discovered this piece as of 4 days ago! via ACA and the Accademia degli Astrusi. I quite like ACA’s take, but was thinking of the need to explore more because there is some thing in her treatment of english that I somehow can not feel.. one could say somehow it was distracting..** but that orchestra is something! Then i recalled the write up earworm did with D.Röschmann.. and some mention of Susan Graham.. which I sort of put to the side pocket this afternoon while listening again (for the 11th time) the version with ACA.. then it was really time to explore, and Emmanuelle Haïm!!!! W.O.W .m.u.s.t. have that whole recording! it’s ashamed if they didn’t tape it for release! and why not, we had the dvd with JEG’s in rehearsal. Whyyyyyy oh why can’t we have one with Emmanuelle?

— Quite amazing, her take with the orchestra. And S.Graham’s ending, w.o.w
— (it’s great she also chose the larger sized orchestra, as she explained in lovely English at the beginning of the video..)
— now that I listened again for the 3rd time, it’s quite interesting how she pronounces “Belinda”.. of course it’s not the essence of the lament, but the treatment here you don’t quite notice she’s really talking too much directly to Belinda, whereas with ACA you can feel Belinda is right by the side listening to Dido’s intimacy. very interesting, how the text works with the emphasis 🙂
— more note on text treatment, which i find quite interesting having listening now to ACA for the last 1.5 month.. in how instinctive she is in Italian (as far as i can tell, i don’t understand the text, but i “hear” the phrase! if you can believe that. It reminded me of the time when Al nicely provided me with VK’s translation and I had to listen to VK speaking in Bulgarian to match the time of the transcript; it’s truly amazing the melody we (some of us) create (how we stretch certain word, how we end some words, etc.) when we speak that inherently it is understood (that, and subtle facial, eye, hand, body movements too). Anyhow, this is not a post about ACA, but about treatment of text, that I was quite amazed how well it works with certain singers. On that subject, i listened to ACA also singing in German (and English)***, and there suddenly i felt, as the phrase goes, ‘the words get in the way’. Which is something you do not hear here with S.Graham. very interesting 🙂

**– i take it back, as i have now discovered that she was singing 3 different characters. I really like her lament!! 🙂 , a *very* different take, but wonderful phrasing. In a 3rd person feeling though.. talking “out of body” or “to Belinda”, whereas S.Graham’s is to self… . lovely .
——–
edit: crap, the library has only cd version, time to jump hoops again..