Henry Purcell (1659-95) was to English music what Shakespeare was to English theater. Purcell composed “Dido and Aeneas,” the first opera we have in English, and many other works for the musical stage, including “The Fairy Queen.” Many sopranos (and a few tenors) have made its famous aria “Hark, the echoing air” a showpiece of their skills.
Britten created his own performing editions of “The Fairy Queen,” “Dido and Aeneas,” and many other works of Purcell. In Britten’s concert arrangement of this famous aria, the vocal parts and bass lines were preserved intact, while the orchestral accompaniment is re-imagined in a modern idiom.
Click here to view Bianca Hall’s performance of “Hark, the echoing air,” from our recent “Britten in Song” concert in Glendale. Krystof Van Gyrsperre is at the piano. Winged cupids are prominently featured.