Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Purcell - Dido Aeneas / Maria Ewing Karl Daymond Collegium Musicum 90|
Actors: Maria Ewing, Karl Raymond, Richard Hickox
Director: Peter Maniura
Genres: Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Musicals & Performing Arts
Dido: MARIA EWING — Aeneas: KARL DAYMOND — Belinda: REBECCA EVANS — Sorceress: SALLY BURGESS — Second Woman: PATRICIA ROZARIO — First Enchantress: MARY PLAZAS — Second Enchantress: PAMELA HELEN STEPHEN — Aeneas' Lieutenant: JAMIE... more »
Ever Wonder Why Dryden Was Appreciated?
Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 07/19/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Those jangling, affected tetrameter rhymed couplets? Listen to them sung to the strains of Purcell's best masque music and you'll understand. In fact, this performance of Dido and Aeneas, which makes no effort at recreating the historical staging, nonetheless will bring you closer to the "spirit of the times" of mid-17th Century England than any amount of reading. It's only a 55-minute production, so it might even be useful for classrooms in English literature and history.
If the dandies and grandees of Hampton Court had had video cameras and sound equipment, surely they would have made a film as visually noir as this. As it happens, they didn't. They depended on dancing and costumes for their visual thrills, and a good deal of the music Purcell wrote was intended for dancers. The film has no dancing at all, about which you, dear reader, may or may not care. What it has is movie-quality camera handling, evocative sets, and fairly good acting for a bunch of singers.
The singing is good. Maria Ewing (Dido) has enough drama left in her voice to compensate for a slight lack of athleticism in her rapid passages. Karl Daymond (Aeneas) doesn't have the voice to match his macho presence, but Aeneas doesn't get to sing much in this production anyway. Rebecca Evans is vocally delightful as Belinda. The best singing of all is that of James Bowman as Mercury, but he has hardly more than twenty bars. The chorus carries Purcell's musical art here, with the melodies you'll remember and the words you won't forget:
"Come away, come away, fellow sailors!
Take a boozy short leave of your nymphs on the shore,
and silence their mourning
with vows of returning,
but never, no never intending to visit them more."
Purcell is the household deity of English music, and his premature death is lamented as the reason why England fell short of other European countries in music for the rest of the millennium. Welll... This is elegant and diverting music, but it's no more than that. Unfortunately, this DVD comes with no notes at all - no history, no libretto, no performers' bios. Kinda cheap, Kultur!
Four stars for the singing, minus one for the lack of any notes."
Five Stars, Not Three
Alan M. Walworth | 07/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I hadn't planned to write an exhaustive review (or any at all) of this DVD, but I just couldn't let the one previous assessment, Giordano Bruno's three-star rating, stand alone. Actually, it's surprising that Mr. Bruno gave such a relatively low score, given his generally positive written comments.
Let me say, then, that I think this is an excellent filmed production of Purcell's miniature masterpiece. The director, Peter Maniura, manages to be at once traditional and imaginative in setting this Virgilian tragic love story of ancient Carthage within the confines of the eighteenth-century Hampton Court House. To liven this elegant, stately background, Maniura makes particularly good use of fire as a persistent motif, whether in the blazing torches celebrating the lovers' public acknowledgement of their mutual passion, or the fiery engulfment of the exterior of the house to indicate both the end of the brief affair and the accompanying fall of Carthage, or the final conflagration of the funeral pyre which consumes the body of the tragic queen who has died of thwarted love. The two principals, Maria Ewing and Karl Daymond, are both attractive and convincingly wrapped up in one another's longing gazes, so as to make their tempestuous passion compelling. Maniura even manages to make the Sorceress and her cackling demonic followers, so oddly (and potentially comically) discordant with Virgil's classical narrative, into genuinely fearsome and formidable figures. All this, plus a stirring rendition of Purcell's lovely score, makes for an entrancing and moving production which more than makes up, Mr. Bruno notwithstanding, for the lack of dancing and liner notes."
Robert Baksa | new york state | 09/25/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I have always loved Purcell's short piece on this famous story. However, this production is a big letdown. If you really like film, you will probably enjoy it because it is very cinematic. But if you really like opera it will be less satisfying. Like most attempt at filming opera made by film makers, this production is too cluttered visually. There is too much action to distract from the music for my taste.
Sad to say, ths biggest liability in the cast is Ewing (a singer I usually admire)as Dido. The production is, of course, dubbed. One is most aware of the lip synching with Ewing, probably most most seasoned professional in the cast. The other singers are more convincing in pretending to be singing and there are several truly outstanding voices in the cast. Anneas has a well produced lyric baritone (I don't agree with another reviewer's critique) and looks very handsome though clearly too young for the role. The first sorcerous, Sally Burgess, is outstanding with a melting mezzo and incredible phrasing. Why have we not heard more about this great singer?
Hickock has conducted this piece many times but he really seems to be dragging the tempos in the last scenes. Had Ewing been a bit more involved the ending might not have seemed so lifeless (no pun intended).
I also question the need for the nearly graphic sexuality during the "Come Away, Fellow Sailors" number. It seems that modern directors don't trust either the music or the story. They must feel that no one will pay attention if their direction is not suggestive enough. At least in this production half the cast did not carry rifles and guns.
Too bad this is the only game in town for this classic opera. It's unquestionably sumptuous visually but pretty bland as a representation of this glorious music
J. Richard Hunt | 05/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This production is beautiful visually and aurally. The music is rich and engaging in the context of the filmed action. We will watch this many times and see something new each time."