Dido’s Lament – H Purcell (1659-95)

This article was written for the March issue of our parish magazine.  You can read it again here:

This powerful aria is the penultimate song in Purcell’s opera “Dido and Aeneas”. I discovered it one January morning. We were recently locked down for the third time, infection rates were out of control and UK daily death rates were higher than ever. A friend had posted a version of Dido’s Lament by Annie Lennox, accompanied by London City Voices. Well, if Annie Lennox is involved, it has to be worth a listen! Unaware at the time that this song is from an opera, nor the story of the opera, I clicked ‘play’, and it spoke to me:

When I am laid in earth, may my wrongs create no trouble in thy breast.

Remember me, remember me, but – ah! – forget my fate.

The Lennox/LCV recording was dedicated to Greenpeace, on behalf of our dying planet, with the aim of raising funds to address some of the causes of global warming – and some of the issues caused by global warming.

I scoured various online repositories for Public Domain sheet music, with a view to suggesting to Maggie’s Music Makers that we learn and perform it. Yes, it’s secular music rather than sacred, but given the year we’ve suffered, the sacrifices we’ve made, and the losses we grieve, it is entirely appropriate for Lent. As they so often do, they rose to the challenge, each contributing powerful performances to our virtual choir video.

The music is dignified, impassioned, and utterly spine-tingling. I never tire of listening.

Lennox/LCV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3DFaIovZxc

Maggie’s Music Makers: https://youtu.be/hGUS0B2snRs

Carol P


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