Dido & Belinda was premiered by Helios Collective on the 12th of October 2016 at King's College London
Conductor - Leo Geyer
Director - Ella Marchment
Movement Director - Simeon John-Wake
Dido and Belinda was commissioned as a research/performance project exploring the radical interpretation of opera. Opera directors today are given huge liberty in their interpretations of opera, often significantly moving away from what was originally conceived. However, the music is always treated as sacred and we slavishly regurgitate the music with little creative engagement other than subtle changes in tempi, phrasing, etc.
Dido and Belinda creatively engages with Purcell's score, employing a radical reading of the story in tandem with an equally radical reading of the music. The score has be re-imagined by rethinking and changing almost every aspect of the music except the notes themselves. Whilst the music may sound notably different, it has be created through ‘compositional transformation’ e.g. changing articulation, octave displacement, adding rhythm to held notes etc.
2ND WOMAN soprano
1ST WITCH soprano
Its London fashion week, and Dido, a top model born into the Carthage fashion label, is now the face of the family brand. We find her struggling with the pressure, media attention and above all her inner turmoil at seeing Aeneas, who has returned after a two-year absence at sea, and expects to marry her to secure his elite social status. Dido looks for comfort in her lover Belinda, but Aeneas soon appears. The proposed marriage appears to be the ideal match between two celebrities and is feted by all. Dido and Belinda resolve to take a different path and, while Aeneas and his posse celebrate the forthcoming marriage, they escape to find help.
Dido and Belinda find themselves in a different world – in a downtown club that fizzes with liberated female power, freedom and energy. Dido summons up the courage to ask them for help to get rid of Aeneas's unwanted attention, and the Sorceress vows to help them both. Before her plan is put into action she and the witches test the trustworthiness of the two lovers.
Dazed and confused, Dido and Belinda wake to find themselves in the woods. They put on disguises as Aeneas interrupts his hunt for foxes and women. Dido and Belinda watch as he stalks his prey, and Belinda holds Dido back before she reveals herself too early in the plan. The witches appear and conjure up a storm to stall Aeneas. Belinda, now in disguise as the prostitute Mercury, seduces Aeneas, which Dido catches on camera. The humiliated Aeneas is left to curse his own misfortune and promises to leave in the morning.
Aeneas's drunk sailors sing and dance the night away at the dock while the Witches and the Sorceress put the last part of the plan into action. They resolve to create a storm to sink Aeneas's ship, and then in a frenzy of bloodthirsty violence beat the drunken sailors to near-unconsciousness to punish them for their lack of respect for women. Dido calls a press conference, and Aeneas returns to plead with Dido to take him back. Dido feigns sadness but commands him to go. As the press leave, Dido and Belinda, bring the plan to its conclusion and write Dido's suicide note. They then stage her death, and her note is read to her friends who express their sorrow. The witches reappear, disguised as nuns, to “take care” of the body, and as the public depart Dido and Belinda escape to a new life of anonymity.
Written in collaboration with Director Ella Marchment and Prof. Daniel Leech-Wilkinson
Dido and Belinda is available to hire. Please contact the composer directly to discuss rental arrangements and performance rights.