Purcell, Henry: Dido and Aeneas
Edited Bruce Wood
First published in 2021
Dimensions (mm): 303 x 213 x 19
A major publishing event in British music, the Purcell Society’s new edition of Dido and Aeneas radically reappraises an undisputed national treasure. Based on sources distanced in time from its first performance, previous editions relied heavily on the famed but imperfect Tenbury manuscript, while assuming on not much evidence that the opera was written for the pupils of Josias Priest’s Chelsea boarding school for girls. The fruit of four decades of evolving Purcellian studies, this new score rethinks that position, placing the drama’s provenance firmly within the sophisticated court circles of Charles II, and assessing previously overlooked and recently discovered manuscripts with a fresh eye to dating and detail. There are significant casting implications, in particular for the crucial role of the Sorceress. Moreover, the tale of scholarly detective work told in the accompanying textual apparatus should enthral all serious lovers of baroque music. This landmark edition of Dido and Aeneas will transform our view of a masterpiece, both of Purcell’s exquisite art and of the great European classical tradition.
In May 2021, staff and students of the Royal Academy of Music gave the world premiere performances of the new Purcell Society edition of Dido and Aeneas, in collaboration with the Purcell Society and Stainer & Bell. Videos of these performances are freely available on the Royal Academy of Music website:
Performance from 28 May 2021, in which the role of the Sorceress was taken by a bass
Performance from 27 May 2021, in which the Sorceress was played by a mezzo-soprano
Vocal score and instrumental material in preparation.