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Henry Purcell And "Dido And Aeneas"

758 words - 4 pages

In the dedication of Henry Purcell’s opera, Dioclesian, to the Duke of Somerset, he declared, "As Poetry is the harmony of Words, so Music is that of Notes; and as Poetry is a rise above Prose and Oratory, so is Music the exaltation of Poetry. Both of them may excel apart, but sure they are most excellent when they are joined, because nothing is then wanting to either of their perfections: for thus they appear like wit and beauty in the same person." Henry Purcell was a prolific English composer of Baroque opera, church music, cantatas, instrumental works, and more . Not only did he have a vast understanding of music and composition, but he also comprehended the obligation to form a ...view middle of the document...

It makes sense that this would be the case, due to the fact that Dido and Aeneas is Purcell’s only through-composed opera . In his article, Dido and Aeneas: questions of style and evidence, Curtis Price, a Purcell scholar, explains that there are many melodic details that resemble each other from John Blow’s Venus and Adonis and Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas . Despite these connections, there are also many differences between the two works that Curtis Price points out; for example, Venus and Adonis is considered a tragédie lyrique and is “virtually continuous” with “no set piece arias”, while Dido and Aeneas is an opera that “shows a full awareness of an important development in Venetian opera” --that is, that it is of a higher compositional and dramatic quality.
While much of the inspiration for Dido and Aeneas can be traced back to John Blow’s Venus and Adonis, there is also a dependency upon the mythological tale of the two title characters, which is found in the Aeneid, by Virgil . The main part of the tragic story is about Aeneas, the to-be founder of Rome, and Dido, the queen of...

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