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Dido and Aeneas- Two extended scenes

Aria- "Ah, Belinda"


Miniature da capo aria.
Based on four bar ground bass (providing a structural link to "When I am laid in
earth")
Mostly C minor tonality
bars 29- 36 move to G minor (dominant minor)
Uses varying phrase length
Vocal phrases overlap ground bass.
This makes it more interesting/ less repetitive.
Extensive use of word painting to convey mood:
"Ah!"- sigh effect, suspension, not on the main beat.
"torment" descending, melismatic, negative
"I am press'd" Melismatic, rhythmically unstable- state of mind is fragile at
this point.
This aria is followed by a ritornello section, which is instrumental, and is based on
the first 4 notes of the ground bass. There are imitative string entries throughout.
Recitative- "Grief Increases"
begins as a duet between Dido and Belinda.
Short, 1 bar phrases suggest Dido is struggling with her conscience.
Sense of an argument created, especially by the lyrics "then let me speak".
2nd woman, as a detached character, is used to explain the plot.
At this point, the words are not focusing on Dido's emotion but on the "secure" state
of Carthage, so the music moves to G major (the dominant major).
Chorus- "monarchs unite"
Returns to C minor
This is an example of musical irony, as the words are positive. Perhaps it
foreshadows the tragic events to come.
Uses homophonic texture to create a sense of agreement between the characters.
Talking about the importance of united monarchs/ nation.
Recitative- "Thy hand belinda"
Declamatory section leading to Dido's lament.
Tied closely with the lament beginning on C and descending by conjunct step.
Chromaticism is linked to death- sense of foreboding.
Imperfect cadence leads from C minor to G minor (dominant key).
Aria- "When I am laid in Earth"
Opens with 5 bar long ground bass- results in phrasing not being balanced.
Uses word painting- "trouble" uses tritone interval; "laid" is emphasised
harmonically using 4-3 suspension; "ah" is once again used as a cry of anguish.
Free vocal structure- vocal lines overlap.
When the vocal melody is repeated, it is aligned differently with the bassline. This
highlights Dido's distraction.
The music builds towards the climax reached on the high G- "remember me!".
Instrumental epilogue
Ritornello- theme returns in instrumental parts
Full G minor chromatic scale is finally heard, signifying Dido's death.
Chorus- "With drooping wings"
A chorus of angels sings a descending melody.
Contrapuntal, fractured texture signifies anguish.
Word painting is used- scatter (quaver rhythm, melisma); "soft" (leans on next note).