MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Dido and Aeneas at Juilliard

Here’s my program essay for Juilliard Opera’s production of Dido and Aeneas at the Willson Theater, directed by Mary Birnbaum and led by Avi Stein, with choreography by Claudia Schreier. Closes tomorrow.

“Even this little boarding-school opera is full of [Purcell’s] spirit, his
freshness, his dramatic expression, and his unapproached art of setting
English speech to music.” This was the verdict that Cornetto di Basso (aka
George Bernard Shaw, using his pen name as a music critic) reached when
covering an otherwise less-than-thrilling performance of Dido and Aeneas
in 1889. Though two centuries old by then, the score had only first been
published in 1841; the opera would not be performed outside England until
1895, when the bicentennial of Henry Purcell’s death stimulated curiosity
about his work.

continue

Filed under: Henry Purcell, Juilliard

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