production is a diptych comprising Michel Nyman’s DIDO. The Prologue
and a Baroque music masterpiece, Henry Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas
Michael Nyman (born in 1944) – composer, musicologist, artist, conductor, photographer, documentary film-maker, founder of his own Campiello Band (now the Michael Nyman Band), Commander of the Order of the British Empire, nominee and prize winner of the British, American and Australian film academies, winner of the International Catalan Film Festival, the Golden Globe Award and many others – is a cult figure in the contemporary arts. A classic of Minimalism, he gained worldwide fame in the late 1970s – the early 1980s thanks to his collaboration with the film director Peter Greenaway. His most notable scores for Peter Greenaway’s films include The Draughtsman's Contract (1982), Drowning by Numbers (1988), The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989), Prospero’s Books (1991). He has written scores for over 50 films, with Michael Winterbottom’s, Neil Jordan’s and Jane Campion’s films among them.
In Nyman’s works academic and functional music intertwine, creating a single stylistic field. He is famous for composing symphony, chamber and concert music, as well as ballets and operas. Michael Nyman is the author of the famous book “Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond” (1974); he invented the term “minimalism” denoting one of the most important styles of the late 20th-century music.
The idea of the opera DIDO. The Prologue has been created by Natalia Anastasieva-Lainer, a Russian stage director, founder and artistic director of the Little World Theatre (Malenky Mirovoi Teatr).
“In May 2003, the Little World Theatre made a production of Nyman’s opera The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat. Having seen the opening performances, the composer called the Moscow interpretation one of the most successful and wished to continue our collaboration. One of the suggested ideas was to create an opera after Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. This is how the opera DIDO. The Prologue appeared. Famous Russian poetess Vera Pavlova wrote a libretto in Russian and translator Steven Seymour made an equirhythmic translation into English.
The staging of the DIDO. The Prologue uses unique facts pertaining to the premiere of Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas that took place in the Chelsey Boarding School for Gentlewomen in April 1689. The opera was acted by the schoolgirls. The part of Aeneas was performed by the famous English singer Henry Bowman. According to some musicologists, the “Orpheus Britannicus” Henry Purcell participated in the production as cembalist.
We offer the modern public our version of the events that happened over three hundred years ago. The musical and dramatic action is a new story: the myth related by Virgil is projected onto a little boarding school in Chelsea, which becomes a new Carthage. The authors of the opera act as Gods and the opera roles are almost mystically distributed between the participants” (Natalia Anastasieva-Lainer).
DIDO.The Prologue in concert was premiered in 2012 in Perm. As part of the DIDO project at the Novaya Opera it is shown on stage for the first time.
The Novaya Opera staged Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in 1999, when it was performed in concert in the Mirror Foyer, and in 2013, when it was performed by Novaya Opera soloists, the student choir of the Perm Music College and the orchestra of the Perm State Academy of Art and Culture. The latter production was a one-act opera-ballet. Natalia Anastasieva-Lainer was the director of the concert version and in both cases Dmitry Volosnikov acted as music director. It is only logical that now he is the music director of the DIDO project.
The set and costume designer is Yury Kharikov, a prominent Russian master and multiple prize-winner of the Golden Mask Russian National Theatrical Award.