Mstation Classical Reviews

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Thu, 27 Nov 2008

Purcell - Dido and Aeneas

Purcell - Dido and Aeneas special dance version by Sasha Walz DVD, Arthaus Musik

Quite recently I had a look at two DVD's from Arthaus and I'm back with another so soon after coming across this one quite by accident. If a DVD demands some visual value for it to be worthwhile then this one has that in spades. It will also upset Puritans ... which is completely fine with me.

It opens with a big tank in which people are swimming in a sort of dance-like way. There are pretty limbs and the occasional breast and, of course, Purcell's gorgeous music.

In case you're wondering, yes, this version is different to the original in a few ways, not least of which is that it's about fifty minutes longer and has all the dance things going on. The original had room for Divertisements - baroque dance interludes - but these are, of course, gone.

There are some nice moments in the modern dance - the lovely dance of Cupid done by a young boy and various other writhings and jumpings about. There is a nice restrained eroticism that runs through it all, which is highly appropriate as this is a love story after all.

I wonder if the puritan thought police have been attacking it. Just parenthetically, I recently came across a story where an Armani Junior ad had been withdrawn because some people had complained that it made them feel funny, and that such an ad was certain to get paedophiles heading straight for the local playground. These people are quite certifiable I think and should be put in nice clean white rooms where they can set about cleaning out their polluted hearts.

Yes, I digress: the eroticism here in this DVD is quite mild and unlikely to upset anyone with even a mild degree of sophistication. It's not for everyone though - traditionalists might regard it as akin to an unknown musician using samples from someone famous to advance themselves. And Baroque Opera is lovely in its own right. The dance that rightfully accompanies it is also beautiful, light and elegant - like the music itself.

Another aspect was the idea of having both singers and dancers on the stage. This works quite well for the chorus but looks a little silly when you have two Didos and two Aeneas (Aeneai?) on stage at the same time - this was particularly noticeable (shall we say) during Dido's lament.

If you're a Purcell fan then you should just have it as it is at the very least interesting. And if you're not a Purcell fan it is interesting in its own right. Now I'm waiting for a full and proper version of Fairey Queen. (Baron K)

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