Dido and Aeneas [Blu-ray] [Import]
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The richness of the musical and dramatic material in Henry Purcell's hour-long 1689 opera Dido and Aeneas has inspired directors and opera companies to try all kinds of alternative stagings. Rarely have any been as successful as this mix of ballet and opera conceived by director Wayne McGregor for La Scala in 2006, and recorded in high-definition at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in April. The music is superb, led by a fabulous performance by English mezzo Sarah Connolly as Dido. Christopher Hogwood crisply leads the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. The action on stage is shadowed by 12 members of the Royal Ballet. Music and movement are always in perfect sync, both emotionally and physically. The sets are minimal, further putting the emphasis on the people. The main extra is a 10-minute interview with the engaging, 39-year-old McGregor, a rare example of a successful dance-opera crossover artist.
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Top Customer Reviews
Sets are minimalist and timeless without any evidence of an attempt to shock the viewer or make a statement. They go well with the costumes and actions of those on stage. Dance sequences are tastefully done and to my eyes, not the eyes of a balletomane I have to say, entirely appropriate. Hogwood and the OAE give excellent support and are beautifully recorded.
Lucy Crowe as Belinda looks and sounds very fine and Sara Fulgoni is an apt sorceress, oozing the sense that she isn't about to take any lip from anyone. As the witches, Eri Nakamura and Pumeza Matshikiza provide some novelty by appearing in one costume. Perhaps a nod to those demanding belt-tightening in the world of the arts. Lucas Meacham as Aeneas failed to inspire me both vocally and in appearance, though apparently he does it for the ladies in the audience and he certainly he gets Dido going.
And it is for Sarah Connolly that I bought this performance. Having seen her only in trouser roles I wanted to sample her capabilities in something totally different. She is superb. That the voice is glorious is no surprise. What is, is the sheer sensuality she brings to the role of Dido without sacrificing the essential regal qualities. Nobody would accuse her of looking like your standard box-office starlet, but she is all woman. Troy must be a pretty special place, you feel, for Aeneas to want to take off and leave her. "When I am laid to earth" is technically spot-on and very moving. A masterpiece of a performance.
This is my first Blu-ray disc and a very convincing introduction to the new medium. Picture and sound are impeccable.
I see there's a new dvd of the work about to appear with William Christie in charge. Should be good, and it needs to be to compete with this one. It's a credit to ROH.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The video on this Blu Ray is absolutely stunning as is the audio.