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Dido & Aeneas

Online Opera


Online broadcast

Stream for free now on ETO at Home

As part of our ETO at Home series, we thought to include the three parts of our unusual staging of 17th century music, produced and toured in 2018. None of these archive films of dress rehearsals were intended for a public - but in this year of silence in theatres the performers wanted us to share them with you.

The first of these is the most familiar: Henry Purcell’s extraordinary Dido and Aeneas. “Remember me!” the abandoned Dido calls, and in her eloquent lament she will be remembered forever. Director Sebastian Harcombe and designer Adam Wiltshire conjure in this production a Jacobean night-world, in which a great woman (played by soprano Sky Ingram) contemplates her ruin. This production, with members of the Old Street Band, is conducted by Jonathan Peter Kenny.


Act I

In the palace of Carthage Dido is lovesick, but fate has forbidden her to love Aeneas. Her handmaiden Belinda tries to lighten her mood and encourages her to be joyful. Belinda encourages Dido to express her love for Aeneas, a union of both love and political gains for the Trojans and Carthaginians. Aeneas begs Dido to have pity on him, and promises that he will defy his fate of building a new empire to stay with Dido. Belinda and the people of Carthage encourage the union. Dido and Aeneas go hunting.

Act II

Witches are gathered to a cave by a Sorceress; together they plot to make Dido unhappy through keeping her and Aeneas apart. They conjure a great storm during the hunt and the hunting party head back to town to escape it. Before he can leave, Aeneas is stopped by a Spirit posing as the god Mercury. The Spirit commands Aeneas to leave Carthage and follow his destiny.


Sailors are preparing for their voyage. The witches rejoice at their success in tormenting the broken-hearted Dido. Aeneas joins Dido and Belinda before he must reluctantly set sail and leave Carthage. He expresses his sorrow, but Dido refuses to believe him and tells him to leave. Aeneas offers to stay, to break the command of the gods, but Dido refuses. When Aeneas leaves, Dido’s fate is sealed.