Dido and Aeneas: An Epitome of Baroque Music

Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695) was the most influential English baroque composer, together with German-born George Frederic Handel. He was born in the town of Westminster, England. He had two brothers, Edward and Daniel, the latter was a great composer as well. When he was five years old, Henry’s father died, and he went to live with his uncle.

Purcell began to compose when he was nine years old, and his first public work was an ode for the king’s birthday, which Henry composed at age eleven. After many years of experience, the Englishman composed an opera which would continue to be produced with great success centuries later: Dido and Aeneas.

Meeting of Dido and Aeneas

Meeting of Dido and Aeneas

Dido and Aeneas is an opera in three acts based upon Virgil’s Aeneid. It tells the story, using dramatic music and lyrics, of the beautiful Queen Dido of Carthage and the Trojan Aeneas. Dido and Aeneas fall in love when he sails to Carthage. But a sorceress, who wants to destroy Carthage and it’s queen, decides to deceive Aeneas into leaving Carthage, breaking Dido’s heart. This, she concludes, would successfully end the queen’s life and reign.  Continue reading

Lascia ch’io pianga — A Dramatic Aria by Handel

In George Frederic Handel’s opera Rinaldo, he puts to music a dramatic love tragedy and joyful reunion, in the setting of the early eleventh century during the first crusade. Lascia ch’io pianga is the sad aria sung by Almerina (a soprano), who is mourning for her lover, Rinaldo. Being a typical baroque aria, it is dramatic and full of vivid emotion.  Continue reading