When Henry Purcell wrote his one and only opera Dido and Aeneas in the second half of the seventeenth century, there was no existing opera tradition in England. With a libretto based on Virgil’s Aeneid and its music stylistically close to and derived from the typically English ‘Masque’ form (a festive courtly entertainment involving music, dancing, singing and acting, within an elaborate stage design) Purcell created a monumental baroque opera. Dido and Aeneas is considered by many to be the most important opera to appear between Claudio Monteverdi’s L'incoronazione di Poppea and W.A. Mozart’s later masterpieces. Still today it is widely performed and its most famous aria ‘When I am lead in earth’ (Dido’s lament) arguably can be counted amongst some of the most famous opera arias ever.
On this 1970 multi-channel Philips Classics recording, Dido is interpreted by soprano Josephine Veasey. The Academy of St Martin in the Fields and the John Alldis choir are conducted by Sir Colin Davis. The recording has been remastered in 2015 and is now re-released in PENTATONE’s REMASTERED CLASSICS series, which finally gives it the chance to expose its magnificent sound quality.