Dido and Aeneas

by Kristen Strandberg

Shifting between pleasant consonant sounds and stunningly beautiful dissonance, Henry Purcell’s 1689 Dido and Aeneas is still regarded as one of the most significant musical works of the seventeenth century. It is a rare treat to hear such a work performed, and while it is certainly a product of its time, the music is still emotionally striking and relevant over three hundred years later. Indiana University’s Summer Festival Chorus will perform an un-staged version of the work on June 25, under the direction of Dominick DiOrio.

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While Dido and Aeneas has remained popular within early music circles, little is known about the circumstances of its composition. The first known performance took place at a boarding school for young women in the London suburb of Chelsea in 1689, although some evidence suggests it may have been written for the coronation of King William and Queen Mary earlier that year. Very few operas were written in seventeenth-century England, largely due to a lack of patronage and royal support. Yet, Dido and Aeneas’s composer, Henry Purcell, and librettist, Nahum Tate, both had royal connections- Purcell was an organist at the Chapel Royal, and Tate would soon be named court poet.

Historians have suggested that the text for the opera’s prologue (the music for which has been lost) may allegorically reference the union of William and Mary. Additionally, the earliest surviving musical score includes male vocal parts in low ranges, which could not have been sung by the young female students. Still, no record of a court performance exists, so we can only speculate as to whether Dido and Aeneas was a court-sponsored work, and there is no other documented performance of the work during Purcell’s lifetime.

The opera’s plot is based on the fourth book of Virgil’s Aeneid. Dido, the queen of Carthage, is in love with the visiting Aeneas, who will eventually establish Rome. A sorceress intervenes and destroys the budding romance, leaving Dido to die of a broken heart. Just before dying, Dido sings her famous and heart-wrenchingly beautiful lament. Purcell borrowed the concept of a musical lament from earlier Italian operas, and retains the genre’s trademark repeated bass line. While laments traditionally included a repeated bass line of four descending notes, Purcell adds chromatic half steps to create a six-note descending pattern. The lament’s smooth lyricism combined with dissonant harmonies gives it a tragic, yet unique and strikingly beautiful sound.

The opera involves a small orchestra of strings and harpsichord, and eight sung characters, plus a chorus. Purcell’s chorus fulfills various functions throughout the work, acting as groups of background characters to provide commentary on the narrative.
IU’s production will consist of Jacobs School of Music students participating in the annual Summer Festival, including the Summer Festival Chorus, directed by Choral Conducting Professor Dominick DiOrio. The performance will take place on Tuesday, June 25 at 8pm in Auer Hall in the Simon Music Center.

The Ryder

3 Days In Bloomington

THURSDAY, MAY 16TH, 2013

■ EXERCISE SilverSneakers Cardio Circuit; Twin Lakes Recreation Center; 8:30AM

■ EXERCISE Nia; Twin Lakes Recreation Center; 8:30AM

■ EXERCISE SilverSneakers Cardio Circuit; Twin Lakes Recreation Center; 9:30AM

■ YOGA Yoga class; St. Thomas Lutheran Heritage Hall; 10AM

■ ART TAPA: Unwrapping Polynesian Barkcloth; IU Art Museum; 10AM-5PM

■ EXERCISE SilverSneakers Muscle Strength and Range of Movement; Twin Lakes Recreation Center; 10:30AM

■  YOGA Hatha yoga class; Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center cultural building; 4:30PM-6PM

■  BOOK CLUB Secular Alliance book club; Rachael’s Cafe; 5PM-7PM

■ EXERCISE Core Essentials; Twin Lakes Recreation Center; 5:30PM

■ CLASS Put It in Order: Circulation Volunteer Training; Monroe County Public Library; 6PM

■ CLASS Job Search and Resume Help; Monroe County Public Library; 6PM

■ YOGA Yoga Class; Unity of Bloomington; 6:30PM

■ MEDITATION Sitting/walking meditation; Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center; 6:30PM-7:30PM

■ EXERCISE Body Blitz; Twin Lakes Recreation Center; 6:30PM

■ LIVE MUSIC Built for Comfort; Player’s Pub; 6:30PM; $4.oo

■ DOCUMENTARY Room 237; IU Cinema; 7PM

■ LIVE MUSIC Live Music at the Brewpub; Upland Brewing; 7PM

■ LIVE MUSIC Dead Roses; Max’s Place; 9PM

■ COMEDY John Dore; The Comedy Attic

■ LIVE MUSIC Three Story Hill; The Bluebird

■ PLAY Underneath the Lintel; John Waldron Arts Center

FRIDAY, MAY 17TH, 2013

■ ART TAPA: Unwrapping Polynesian Barkcloth; IU Art Museum; 10AM-5PM

■ RACING USAC sprint cars Larry Rice Classic; Bloomington Speedway; 5:30PM-11PM

■ FOOD & DRINK National Bike to Work Day Block Party; Upland Brewery; 5:30PM

■ ART Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show: Zoom; artist Sophie McMahon; Grunwald Gallery at the Kinsey Institute; 6PM-8PM

■ DOCUMENTARY Room 237; IU Cinema; 7PM

■ LIVE MUSIC Monika Herzig & Oliver Nelson Duo; Cafe Django; 7PM

■ LIVE MUSIC/COMEDY Heywood Banks; Brown County Playhouse; 7:30PM; $25.oo

■ PLAY Spun: A Brother/Sister Rock Musical; Bloomington Playwrights Project; 7:30PM

■ LIVE MUSIC Summertime Band; Player’s Pub; 8PM; $5.oo

■ LIVE MUSIC Instrumental Pop Series; Rachael’s Cafe; 8PM; $5.00

■ LIVE MUSIC Here Come the Mummies; The Bluebird; 9PM

■ LIVE MUSIC Charley; Max’s Place; 9PM

■ COMEDY John Dore; The Comedy Attic

■ LIVE MUSIC Time Travels; John Waldron Arts Center Auditorium

■ PLAY Underneath the Lintel; John Waldron Arts Center

■ LIVE MUSIC River Roots Festival; Bicentennial Park

■ BIKING Bloomington Bikes Month Cycle to Service Weekend; City Hall Showers Building; all day

■ BIKING Bloomington Bikes Month National Bike to Work Day; City Hall Showers Building; all day

SATURDAY, MAY 18TH, 2013

■ MARKET Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market; City Hall parking lot; 8AM

■ BIKING Bloomington Bikes Month Bike to Market; City Hall Showers Building; 8AM

■ EXERCISE Beginner Boot Camp; Twin Lakes Recreation Center; 8:30AM

■ HEALT Active Living Coalition Health Fair; City Hall Showers Common; 9AM

■ YOGA Hatha yoga class; Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center cultural building; 10AM-12:30PM

■ ART TAPA: Unwrapping Polynesian Barkcloth; IU Art Museum; 10AM-5PM

■ ART International Art Museum Day celebration; IU Art Museum; 10AM-5PM

■ ART Trained Eye Arts Art Sale; Trained Eye Arts; 10AM-3PM

■ EXERCISE Zumba; Twin Lakes Recreation Center; 10:30AM

■ HEALING Ch’i Gung Healing Circle; Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center; 10:30AM-12PM

■ WORKSHOP Emerald Ash Borer Workshop for Homeowners; City Hall Showers Building; 11AM-12PM

■ WORKSHOP Discover the Spirit of Gratitude and Generosity by Rediscovering Macedonia; St. Thomas Lutheran Church; 1PM-4PM

■ MARTIAL ARTS Tae Kwon Do; ages 6-12; Unity of Bloomington; 1:15PM-2:15PM

■ ART Power of Pattern workshop for simple block carving; Mathers Museum of World Cultures; 1:30PM-3PM

■ MARTIAL ARTS Tae Kwon Do; ages 6-12; Unity of Bloomington; 1:15PM-2:15PM

■ PETS Adorable Adoptables; Monroe County Public Library; 2PM

■ MARTIAL ARTS Tae Kwon Do; ages 13 to adult; Unity of Bloomington; 2:15PM-3:45PM

■ FILM The Shining; IU Cinema; 3PM

■ OPEN MIC LGBT Aging & Caring Network Open Mic/Open House; Rachael’s Cafe; 3PM-6PM

■ DOCUMENTARY Room 237; IU Cinema; 7PM

■ LIVE MUSIC Der Vorfuhreffekt; Rachael’s Cafe; 7PM-9PM

■ PLAY Spun: A Brother/Sister Rock Musical; Bloomington Playwrights Project; 7:30PM

■ LIVE MUSIC Hoosier Young; Brown County Playhouse; 7:30PM; $20.oo

■ DANCE Dancing with the Celebrities presented by Arthur Murray Dance Studio; Buskirk Chumley Theater; 8PM

■ LIVE MUSIC Harsch Reality; Player’s Pub; 8PM; $5.oo

■ LIVE MUSIC Istanbul Breeze; Cafe Django; 8PM

■ LIVE MUSIC Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials; Max’s Place; 9PM

■ EVENT A Night at the Club with Mr. Gay Southern Cities ’13; Uncle E’s Nightclub; 10PM

■ COMEDY John Dore; The Comedy Attic

■ LIVE MUSIC Smooth Country; Mike’s Dance Barn

■ LIVE MUSIC Dot Dot Dot; The Bluebird

■ RECORDING Creative Aging Month oral history recording; Monroe County History Center

■ PLAY Underneath the Lintel; John Waldron Arts Center

■ LIVE MUSIC River Roots Festival; Bicentennial Park

■ BIKING Bloomington Bikes Month Cycle to Service Weekend; City Hall Showers Building; all day

The Ryder & Kurt the IT Freelancer bring you the best of Bloomington.