BRIGHTON FESTIVAL: Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell

Review. Photo: Shutterstock SUS-150912-143625001
Review. Photo: Shutterstock SUS-150912-143625001

Purcell’s opera, written as an entertainment for a girls’ finishing school in 1689, is classical tragedy of war, duty, love and a hint of black magic thrown in for good measure.

It has always been a personal favourite of mine, so I was fascinated to see and hear what David Bates’ La Nuova Musica would make of it.

The singing was uniformly excellent as one would expect from an ensemble with Dame Ann Murray at its head.

This world class talent did not disappoint, giving Dido depth and passion; her final despair almost too much to bear.

David Bates controlled and shaped the music with period instruments and gave the piece pace and a sense of urgency.

The playing was crisp and focussed and supported the singing superbly.

For me though, the modern dance and “dress down“ of the cast did not quite work; the piece is so much of its time that these elements did jar slightly.

Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell - La Nuova Musica - Theatre Royal, Brighton, May 8th