Buxton International Festival

Dido's Ghost

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A new opera incorporating Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas

Errollyn Wallen (b.1958)
Henry Purcell (1659–1695)

A Buxton International Festival co-commissioned production in partnership with the Barbican Centre, Mahogany Opera, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale, and Dunedin Consort.

The story of Dido and Aeneas did not end with Dido’s death. This new opera by Errollyn Wallen takes the story forward, interweaving a full performance of Purcell’s great tragedy, within this imaginative new partner piece.

‘Remember me, but ah! Forget my fate’, sings Dido at the end of Purcell’s opera. But life is not quite as easy as that, and some memories have a destiny of their own. Set several years after the Carthaginian queen’s death, Dido’s Ghost tells the story of Aeneas’ tragic meeting with Anna, Dido’s sister. She arrives shipwrecked on the shores of his new kingdom, just as he had once found himself stranded in Carthage. Anna’s arrival ignites a murderous jealously in Aeneas’s wife Lavinia. As events play out, its characters confront a past that refuses to fade.

Errollyn Wallen’s new opera, based on Fasti, a tale by Roman poet Ovid, embraces and complements Purcell’s original, which is performed in its entirety as the centrepiece of a drama that is both old and new. Performed on the period instruments of the Dunedin Consort, past blurs into present and memory becomes emotion in this ambitious and poignant new commission.

Libretto by Wesley Stace. Sung in English with side-titles.

John Butt Conductor
Frederic Wake-Walker Director
Anna Jones Designer
Ben Pickersgill Lighting Designer

Isabelle Peters Dido/Anna
Matthew Brook Aeneas
Nardus Williams Belinda
Allison Cook Spirit/Lavinia
Tim Dickinson Sorcerer/Elymas

  • Duration: 1hr 30mins (includes interval)
  • Price: £25-£78



Under 35s: £10 (for Next Gen Friends of BIF, from 1 June. Proof of age required.)