Although I wanted to see Sarah Connolly again after her searing portrayal of Giulio Cesare at Glyndebourne, I really bought this DVD to see baritone hunk Lucas Meacham as Aeneas. He and Mariusz Kwiecien currently share the world's stages as the hottest Don Giovannis, and, with his luminous blue eyes and seductive, lyric baritone, Lucas creates an Aeneas worthy of suicide.
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.