Actéon, Dido and Aeneas

M.-A. Charpentier, H. Purcell

Two miniature chamber operas, in which the sense of emotion and tragedy are a perfect illustration of "Love Unto Death"

Sung in English and in French with French subtitles

The evening's programme revolves around two masterpieces of Baroque art. Both works - one French, the other English - are linked by the same mythological themes using a mise-en-abyme effect. In Actéon, as in Dido, for that matter, the divine imposes its law. When he composed Actéon, Charpentier moved away from traditional pastorales and developed miniaturised form of drama by inventing a new colour for each scene. He also repurposed the common features of Lully's lyric tragedy form to give it a striking dramatic weight. In Dido and Aeneas, a spirit tells the story of the misadventures that befell Actéon, who was changed into a stag because he saw what no human being is supposed to see: a naked Diana bathing with her nymphs. On the goddesses' orders, he is then devoured by his own hounds.

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