PREVIEW: Dido & Aeneas as Dido & Belinda, King’s College

Helios Collective will present a reimagined reading of Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas as Dido & Belinda at King’s College as part of PLAY, the 2016 Arts & Humanities Festival. 


Taking place between the 12th and the 14th October, Helios Collective asks why performances of old texts in music can’t be as innovative as performances of old texts for theatre, with a special reading of Dido & Aeneas as Dido & Belinda.

Classical musicians are still the only artists who are trained to believe that their job is to recreate the practices and intentions of the composer, as faithfully as possible.

Dramturg and Professor of Music at King’s College London, Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, comments: “While actors are encouraged to innovate, musicians are expected to reproduce, and their performances are policed, from first lessons to final recital, to ensure conformity. There are complex historical and cultural reasons for this, but the upshot is that musicians are caught between the urge to be creative and the rigid performance norms of their business, creating stress and anxiety, and enforcing confusion in opera between what happens on stage and in the pit.”

This reading will encourage performers to explore the further possibilities of the music, challenging the restrictions placed on performers as well as the potential  lying dormant in Western classical music.

The choruses have been  re-harmonised, songs re-ordered and orchestration and musical style adjusted. But fundamentally this is still Purcell’s opera, just updated for 2016.

Each evening, the development process involved in creating this performance will be discussed and explored in depth with events chaired by the production team with Professor Leech-Wilkinson, at which audience/performer discussions and contributions will be an essential ingredient.

It is directed by  Ella Marchment, conducted and composed by  Leo Geyer and designed by Frances Bradshaw.

Dido & Aeneas as Dido & Belinda will play at King’s College from the 12th to the 14th October. For more information visit:

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