Dido and Aeneas
Music composed by Henry Purcell. Libretto by Nahum TateDate of composition: 1689
DIDO AND AENEAS
An opera perform'd at Mr. Josias Priest's Boarding School at Chelsey by Young Gentlewomen. The words made by Mr. NAT. TATE. The music composed by Mr. HENRY PURCELL
Dramatis Personae DIDO BELINDA TWO WOMEN AENEAS SORCERESS ENCHANTRESSES SPIRIT of the Sorceress (Mercury) Dido's train, Aeneas' train, Fairies, Sailors OVERTURE ACT THE FIRST Scene: The Palace [enter Dido, Belinda and train] BELINDA Shake the cloud from off your brow, Fate your wishes does allow; Empire growing, Pleasures flowing, Fortune smiles and so should you. CHORUS Banish sorrow, banish care, Grief should ne'er approach the fair. DIDO Ah! Belinda, I am prest With torment not to be Confest, Peace and I are strangers grown. I languish till my grief is known, Yet would not have it guest. BELINDA Grief increases by concealing, DIDO Mine admits of no revealing. BELINDA Then let me speak; the Trojan guest Into your tender thoughts has prest; The greatest blessing Fate can give Our Carthage to secure and Troy revive. CHORUS When monarchs unite, how happy their state, They triumph at once o'er their foes and their fate. DIDO Whence could so much virtue spring? What storms, what battles did he sing? Anchises' valour mixt with Venus' charms How soft in peace, and yet how fierce in arms! BELINDA A tale so strong and full of woe Might melt the rocks as well as you. What stubborn heart unmov'd could see Such distress, such piety? DIDO Mine with storms of care opprest Is taught to pity the distrest. Mean wretches' grief can touch, So soft, so sensible my breast, But ah! I fear, I pity his too much. BELINDA AND SECOND WOMAN [Repeated by Chorus] Fear no danger to ensue, The Hero Loves as well as you, Ever gentle, ever smiling, And the cares of life beguiling, Cupid strew your path with flowers Gather'd from Elysian bowers. DANCE THIS CHORUS THE BASKE [Aeneas enters with his train] BELINDA See, your Royal Guest appears, How Godlike is the form he bears! AENEAS When, Royal Fair, shall I be blest With cares of love and state distrest? DIDO Fate forbids what you pursue. AENEAS Aeneas has no fate but you! Let Dido smile and I'll defy The feeble stroke of Destiny. CHORUS Cupid only throws the dart That's dreadful to a warrior's heart, And she that wounds can only cure the smart. AENEAS If not for mine, for Empire's sake, Some pity on your lover take; Ah! make not, in a hopeless fire A hero fall, and Troy once more expire. BELINDA Pursue thy conquest, Love; her eyes Confess the flame her tongue denies. A DANCE. GITTARS CHACONY. CHORUS To the hills and the vales, to the rocks and the mountains To the musical groves and the cool shady fountains. Let the triumphs of love and of beauty be shown, Go revel, ye Cupids, the day is your own. THE TRIUMPHING DANCE ACT THE SECOND Scene [I]: The Cave [enter Sorceress] [PRELUDE FOR THE WITCHES] SORCERESS Wayward sisters, you that fright The lonely traveller by night Who, like dismal ravens crying, Beat the windows of the dying, Appear! Appear at my call, and share in the fame Of a mischief shall make all Carthage flame. Appear! [enter Enchantresses] FIRST WITCH Say, Beldam, say what's thy will. CHORUS Harm's our delight and mischief all our skill. SORCERESS The Queen of Carthage, whom we hate, As we do all in prosp'rous state, Ere sunset, shall most wretched prove, Depriv'd of fame, of life and love! CHORUS Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho! [etc.] TWO WITCHES Ruin'd ere the set of sun? Tell us, how shall this be done? SORCERESS The Trojan Prince, you know, is bound By Fate to seek Italian ground; The Queen and he are now in chase. FIRST WITCH Hark! Hark! the cry comes on apace. SORCERESS But, when they've done, my trusty Elf In form of Mercury himself As sent from Jove shall chide his stay, And charge him sail tonight with all his fleet away. CHORUS Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho, ho! [etc.] [Enter a Drunken Sailor; a dance] TWO WITCHES But ere we this perform, We'll conjure for a storm To mar their hunting sport And drive 'em back to court. CHORUS [in the manner of an echo.] In our deep vaulted cell the charm we'll prepare, Too dreadful a practice for this open air. ECHO DANCE [Enchantresses and Fairies] Scene [II]: The Grove [enter Aeneas, Dido, Belinda, and their train] RITORNELLE [Orchestra] BELINDA [Repeated by Chorus] Thanks to these lovesome vales, These desert hills and dales, So fair the game, so rich the sport, Diana's self might to these woods resort. GITTER GROUND A DANCE SECOND WOMAN Oft she visits this lov'd mountain, Oft she bathes her in this fountain; Here Actaeon met his fate, Pursued by his own hounds, And after mortal wounds Discover'd, discover'd too late. [A Dance to entertain Aeneas by Dido's women] AENEAS Behold, upon my bending spear A monster's head stands bleeding, With tushes far exceeding Those did Venus' huntsman tear. DIDO The skies are clouded, hark! how thunder Rends the mountain oaks a sunder. BELINDA [Repeated by Chorus] Haste, haste to town, this open field No shelter from the storm can yield. [exeunt Dido and Belinda and train] [The Spirit of the Sorceress descends to Aeneas in the likeness of Mercury] SPIRIT Stay, Prince and hear great Jove's command; He summons thee this Night away. AENEAS Tonight? SPIRIT Tonight thou must forsake this land, The Angry God will brook no longer stay. Jove commands thee, waste no more In Love's delights, those precious hours, Allow'd by th'Almighty Powers To gain th' Hesperian shore And ruined Troy restore. AENEAS Jove's commands shall be obey'd, Tonight our anchors shall be weighed. [Exit Spirit.] But ah! what language can I try My injur'd Queen to Pacify: No sooner she resigns her heart, But from her arms I'm forc'd to part. How can so hard a fate be took? One night enjoy'd, the next forsook. Yours be the blame, ye gods! For I Obey your will, but with more ease could die. THE SORCERESS AND HER ENCHANTRESSES (CHORUS) Then since our Charmes have sped, A Merry Dance be led By the Nymphs of Carthage to please us. They shall all Dance to ease us, A Dance that shall make the Spheres to wonder, Rending those fair Groves asunder. THE GROVES DANCE ACT THE THIRD Scene: The Ships [enter the Sailors, the Sorceress, and her Enchantresses] PRELUDE FIRST SAILOR [Repeated by Chorus] Come away, fellow sailors, your anchors be weighing. Time and tide will admit no delaying. Take a bouzy short leave of your nymphs on the shore, And silence their mourning With vows of returning But never intending to visit them more. THE SAILORS' DANCE SORCERESS See the flags and streamers curling Anchors weighing, sails unfurling. FIRST WITCH Phoebe's pale deluding beams Guilding more deceitful streams. SECOND WITCH Our plot has took, The Queen's forsook. TWO WITCHES Elissa's ruin'd, ho, ho! Our plot has took, The Queen's forsook, ho, ho! SORCERESS Our next Motion Must be to storme her Lover on the Ocean! From the ruin of others our pleasures we borrow, Elissa bleeds tonight, and Carthage flames tomorrow. CHORUS Destruction's our delight Delight our greatest sorrow! Elissa dies tonight and Carthage flames tomorrow. [Jack of the the Lanthorn leads the Spaniards out of their way among the Enchantresses.] A DANCE [Enter Dido, Belinda and train] DIDO Your counsel all is urged in vain To Earth and Heav'n I will complain! To Earth and Heav'n why do I call? Earth and Heav'n conspire my fall. To Fate I sue, of other means bereft The only refuge for the wretched left. BELINDA See, Madam, see where the Prince appears; Such Sorrow in his looks he bears As would convince you still he's true. [enter Aeneas] AENEAS What shall lost Aeneas do? How, Royal Fair, shall I impart The God's decree, and tell you we must part? DIDO Thus on the fatal Banks of Nile, Weeps the deceitful crocodile Thus hypocrites, that murder act, Make Heaven and Gods the authors of the Fact. AENEAS By all that's good ... DIDO By all that's good, no more! All that's good you have forswore. To your promis'd empire fly And let forsaken Dido die. AENEAS In spite of Jove's command, I'll stay. Offend the Gods, and Love obey. DIDO No, faithless man, thy course pursue; I'm now resolv'd as well as you. No repentance shall reclaim The injur'd Dido's slighted flame. For 'tis enough, whate'er you now decree, That you had once a thought of leaving me. AENEAS Let Jove say what he will: I'll stay! DIDO Away, away! No, no, away! AENEAS No, no, I'll stay, and Love obey! DIDO To Death I'll fly If longer you delay; Away, away!..... [Exit Aeneas] But Death, alas! I cannot shun; Death must come when he is gone. CHORUS Great minds against themselves conspire And shun the cure they most desire. DIDO [Cupids appear in the clouds o're her tomb] Thy hand, Belinda, darkness shades me, On thy bosom let me rest, More I would, but Death invades me; Death is now a welcome guest. When I am laid in earth, May my wrongs create No trouble in thy breast; Remember me, but ah! forget my fate. CHORUS With drooping wings you Cupids come, To scatter roses on her tomb. Soft and Gentle as her Heart Keep here your watch, and never part. CUPIDS DANCE FINIS
The text of the Prologue is here omitted, as music has not survived for it. Music is missing also for some of the parts of the opera proper, but some attempts have been made to reconstruct them in some productions. The text here does not guarantee faithfulness to any given spelling convention or any particular version of the text, except perhaps the original 1689 print.