What you need to know: Dido and Aeneas
19th June, 2024

What you need to know: Dido and Aeneas

True love, evil plotting and the call of duty.

Opera Queensland and Circa’s production of Dido and Aeneas explores the grand themes of power, desire and destiny whilst transcending genres, seamlessly blending the elegance of classical opera with the breathtaking physicality of acrobatics.

Before you take your seat in the Playhouse Theatre, here’s the low-down.

The Composer

Inspired by Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid, English Baroque composer Henry Purcell wrote his first opera with libretto by Nahum Tate. It was first performed in 1689.

Henry Purcell

The Music

Dido and Aeneas features expressive music that blends Baroque elements with English vocal traditions. From haunting arias like “Dido’s Lament” to lively pieces such as “Rondeau,” Purcell’s music captures the characters’ emotions and enhances the opera’s dramatic narrative.


Aeneas, a Trojan prince, flees the destruction of his home city. He is caught in a storm that transports him to Carthage. Here, he meets the Queen, Dido, and they fall deeply in love. Dido’s court entreats her to accept Aeneas’s love, and merriment ensues at the impending union.

The Sorceress and her coven of witches plot to ensure that Aeneas will abandon Dido. Dido and Aeneas complete their union while hunting. The Sorceress sends a spirit disguised as Mercury to remind Aeneas of his mission to found Rome and to demand he depart immediately.

Aeneas prepares his sailors to travel. He reveals to Dido that he must obey the god’s command to leave. Dido is shattered by Aeneas’s rejection. She laments her lost love. Upon her death, the court sings to Cupid to watch over her.

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