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Recordings

27 May 2005

PURCELL: Dido and Aeneas and The Masque of Cupid and Bacchus
GAILLIARD: Pan and Syrinx

This 2-disc recording contains three mid-Baroque English operas, two of them by Purcell. Dido and Aeneas is the well-known ancient Greek story of the widowed Carthaginian queen Dido and her doomed love for the wandering Aeneas, with its most famous aria built on a descending ground bass. The Masque of Cupid and Bacchus is a light-hearted comparison of the joys of love and drunkenness. Pan and Syrinx is a through-sung, one-act English opera on an original text by Lewis Theobald. It premiered at London’s Lincoln’s Inns Fields Theatre in 1718. London’s opera scene was dominated by Italian opera at this time, and it was very successful as an English-language opera. It is the story of the woodland god Pan, who falls for a cold-hearted nymph named Syrinx. Typical of maidens who are about to be ravished when they don’t want to be, Syrinx calls to the gods as Pan attempts to grab her, and she is transformed into a bunch of reeds, from which Pan makes his panpipe, in order to sing her eternal praise and lament her death.

Henry Purcell: Dido and Aeneas
Nicola Wemyss (Dido), Matthew Baker (Aeneas). Francine van der Heijden (Belinda)

John Ernest Galliard: Pan and Syrinx
Johannette Zomer (Syrinx), Marc Pantus (Pan), Nicola Wemyss (Diana), Mitchell Sandler (Sylvan), Richard Zook (Nymph)

Henry Purcell: The Masque of Cupid and Bacchus
Penni Clarke (Cupid), Marc Pantus (Bacchus)

Musica ad Rhenum, Jed Wentz (cond.)
Brilliant Classics 92464 [2CDs]

This 2-disc recording contains three mid-Baroque English operas, two of them by Purcell. Dido and Aeneas is the well-known ancient Greek story of the widowed Carthaginian queen Dido and her doomed love for the wandering Aeneas, with its most famous aria built on a descending ground bass. The Masque of Cupid and Bacchus is a light-hearted comparison of the joys of love and drunkenness. Pan and Syrinx is a through-sung, one-act English opera on an original text by Lewis Theobald. It premiered at London's Lincoln's Inns Fields Theatre in 1718. London's opera scene was dominated by Italian opera at this time, and it was very successful as an English-language opera. It is the story of the woodland god Pan, who falls for a cold-hearted nymph named Syrinx. Typical of maidens who are about to be ravished when they don't want to be, Syrinx calls to the gods as Pan attempts to grab her, and she is transformed into a bunch of reeds, from which Pan makes his panpipe, in order to sing her eternal praise and lament her death.

Musica ad Rhenum attempts to avoid the anachronisms of style of eighteenth-century opera by using the rhetoric and aesthetics of that time in its performances. The recording is light and fresh, full of vigor and Baroque tone quality. This recording is quite enjoyable and enlightening.

Dr. Brad Eden
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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