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Dido's Lament

Random Thoughts 03

Gm.

Day 3 of the writing every weekday in public challenge.

And thanks to the Spotify algorithm, I'm not even in a struggle for a theme. Whoever feeds that thing has quite a wicked taste, giving me Dido's aria straight after Fuji Kaze.

Dido's Lament

Even if you didn't understand the lyrics on this aria - and you will because it's in English, unlike most Operas which is Italian or German - you'd immediately know that this is someone plunged deep into despair.

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.

Dido bids farewell to her sister

It was composed by Henry Purcell, one of the greatest English Baroque composers, and is part of his only real Opera, Dido and Aeneas.

Based on mythology, the story centers on the love story between Dido, the queen of Carthage, and Aeneas, a Trojan War Hero. After the Trojan War, Aeneas sails home to Italy but steers off the path and ends up in Carthage, where he meets Dido. She initially shows him the cold shoulder but quickly falls for him.

Yet, driven by his duty, he decides to sail off.

Unable to process this betrayal, Dido orders a funeral pyre to be burned so Aeneas would see it. She then sings her last song before stabbing herself.

It's common for the female protagonist in Operas not to survive the closing scene. Can't say diva without di(e).

And still, this aria stands out as one of the most hauntingly beautiful despite being simple and straightforward.

When Purcell wrote his piece, Opera wasn't popular in England. The premier took place in a girl's school, with the girls playing the characters. This might explain why he stripped every unnecessary ornamentation away and reduced it to the essentials. So much that even kids can understand it.

There is beauty in simplicity.

When I am laid, am laid in earth,

May my wrongs create

No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;

Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.

Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.

The chromatic descending bass that accompanies the singer symbolizes descent into the grave and continues throughout the piece, foreshadowing what's to come.

As she draws closer to her final breath, the last remember me ends with a high g, as if her voice is breaking.

It's impossible not to feel anything when listening to this.

Why would you listen to something so sad? Well, why would you read Dostoevsky?

I believe there's consolation in realizing that all the emotions we feel have been experienced by humans forever. And tremendous beauty.

As is written on my shampoo bottle: "The things that touch us become part of us."


Purcell's aria is so timeless that it's now also starring in Castlevania, a Netflix anime about vampires.

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