'Remember me, but ah, forget my fate.' It is with these words that the queen of Carthage dies, in Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. The Trojan hero has just left her in order to establish a new empire in the territory of Italy. Dido dies of a broken heart, but not before first singing one of the most iconic lamentos in the history of opera. The story from Virgil's Aeneis is told here by Purcell's librettist Nahum Tate, who gave free rein to his imagination. Thus, the love between the protagonists is not thwarted by the gods, but by a sorceress and her witches.
While there may have been some static on the line between Virgil and Tate, how intelligible are their heroes and gods for us today? Do they whisper to us from an irrevocable past, when women died of love and heroes wavered between heart and fatherland? And what can Purcell's opera in miniature – the origins of which have been lost to the sands of time – tell us today? Questions such as these inspired the Hungarian director David Marton to explore.
Dido and Aeneas analyses our relationship with time. Together with B'Rock Orchestra and a colourful cast of singers and actors, Marton traces the roots of a centuries-old story, and adds a new chapter. Purcell's score is performed along with spoken lines taken from Virgil, while new music by composer-guitarist Kalle Kalima builds a bridge between the 17th and 21st centuries. Now and then, vocal artist Erika Stucky intervenes as an agent provocateur. The tectonic plates that make up this production collide and give rise to a new landscape in which time stands still. In the process, a universal bedrock of humanity is effortlessly exposed.