Henry Purcell (1659 −1695)

Dido and Aeneas are refugees, fleeing from a war zone. Both have lost their former partners. They meet in Carthage and fall in love. But the shadows of the past soon catch up with them. The Sorceress — a reflection of Dido’s darker aspect who raises evil and destruction to the level of a norm — quickly becomes the true antagonist.
The actress Johanna Wokalek has expanded the character of the Sorceress by adding a number of texts of her own that have been borrowed from Busenello and Virgil. These texts provide a subtle contrapuntal commentary on a performance that represents a completely new engagement with Purcell’s best-known opera on the part of the Balthasar Neumann Choir and Balthasar Neumann Ensemble. But it is not just the combination of spoken play and opera that makes this project unique, it is also the multilayered quality of an interpretation that invests this millennia-old epic with its urgency, its depth and at the same time its actuality. Carefully thought through, the dramaturgy brings out novel nuances in Purcell’s music and reveals hitherto unnoticed connections. In his capacity as both director and conductor, Thomas Hengelbrock turns this production into a veritable synthesis of the arts.



“A sparkling solitaire diamond: Thomas Hengelbrock’s unobtrusive production of Purcell’s opera Dido and Aeneas was a high point of the Salzburg Festival.” DIE KLEINE ZEITUNG

“Time and again the plot is interrupted by triumphal dances and witches’ dances in which the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble under Hengelbrock’s direction demonstrated all of its mastery.” DIE WELT

“After the chorus’s final plea for redemption, there was a moment’s silence in the almost pitch-black Felsenreitschule, followed by enthusiastic cheering.” FAZ  

“It is the internalization of the action that is especially moving here, together with the power of understatement that Hengelbrock ultimately conjures up from total darkness. Every climax leads to something more delicate – and in this the chorus and orchestra are his most sensitive comrades in arms.” DIE PRESSE



Kate Lindsey Dido
Benedict Nelson Aeneas
Katja Stuber Belinda
Johanna Wokalek Sorceress

Balthasar Neumann Choir and soloists
Balthasar Neumann Ensemble
Thomas Hengelbrock Concept, Stage and Musical Direction


Hamburg, Salzburg, Wiesbaden