Purcell's Elaborate Scores, Elegantly Executed at Carnegie Hall

04.13.15
Les Violons du Roy
New York Times

It’s an inevitable reaction. A good performance of Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” leaves you thinking of what might have been had Purcell lived longer. The concert began with excerpts from “The Fairy Queen,” adapted from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The players of Les Violons du Roy, based in Quebec City, brought Baroque-style focused sound and appealing swing to an orchestral Air and Rondeau, which led into a scene for a drunken poet. The bass-baritone Stephen Hegedus was delightful as the poet, slurping his delivery, sometimes bellowing his lines. A chorus of spirits mocked him for his “dogrel rhymes” and prodded two fairies to “pinch him for his crimes” in music that walked a blissful line between gentle joking and intense needling.

 The baritone Henk Neven as Aeneas, the soprano Hélène Guilmette as Belinda (Dido’s confidante) and the alto Vicki St. Pierre as the Sorceress were among the excellent soloists. Ms. Röschmann commanded the stage as Dido, especially in her nobly wrenching account of “Dido’s Lament.”