IN THE title role of the tragic queen, Dame Ann Murray beautifully conveys the anguish of love and loss.
The world-leading mezzo-soprano made for a proud, profoundly sensitive queen opposite Benjamin Appl’s statuesque Trojan Prince Aeneas.
Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, at The Theatre Royal on Sunday night, was given a hit-and-miss modern edge in this production by La Nuova Musica.
In contemporary pieces running through the drama, dancers Fionn Cox-Davies and Anna Finkel boosted the timeless, romantic, reflective air of the story taken from Virgil’s Aenied.
Working less well, was the modern dress worn by the chorus (a sailor in a paisley shirt, for example): combined with simple staging, it weakened their power. Not quite “harm’s our delight and mischiefs all our skill”.
Nonetheless, Augusta Hebbert and Martha McClorinan are aptly gleeful-at-pain as the two witches, plotting Dido’s downfall and the failure of love.
Purcell’s score shone under the orchestra lead by Rodolfo Richter, featuring instruments from Purcell’s time including theorbos played by Alex McCartney and Linda Sayce, and the viola de gamba played by Poppy Walshaw.
And in Dame Ann Murray’s voice, the famous final lament lost none of its power.