Dido and Aeneas
Henry Purcell


Listen to this piece at composed.com now

Purcell is an Ultimate Hall of Fame One Hit Wonder. This was at its highest position — number 119 — in our first Hall of Fame chart in 2010.

The English composer John Blow produced his opera Venus and Adonis, which was partly based on Ovid's Metamorphoses, with a text by Aphra Behn, at the court of Charles II. Henry Purcell was almost certainly sitting in the audience taking it all in and he was clearly inspired by the work. He substituted Virgil for Ovid and the Aeneid for Metamorphoses. Nahum Tate, rather than Aphra Behn, wrote the text. And over the court of Charles II, he favoured the unlikely venue of Josias Priest's Boarding School for Girls, in Chelsea.

Despite its seemingly inauspicious start in life, Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas has come to be seen as the first great English opera, indeed arguably the greatest English opera of all time.

Shawnette Sulker as Belinda and Cathleen Candia as Dido in West Bay Opera's 2011 production.