[MUSIC] Here we are in 17th Century London. You can see there we've got the river Thames, and then London Bridge, the one bridge there in the 17th century that went across the river. To the right of the bridge we see the Tower of London. As we swing around to the left we can see St. James park, over here to the left. The king lived in this area, Whitehall was down here and Westminster Abbey. And then over here actually not the map is where Buckingham Palace will ultimately be built. And then farther off to my left from there we come to Chelsea which was in a suburb but's now very much downtown London. And Chelsea is an important part about what we are going to discuss here with the opera of Henry Purcell. So here, you see an image of Henry Purcell. He's one of the three greatest composers in English history. Purcell, Handel, and Paul Mc Cartney. Well, at least those are my choices for the three greatest English composers. Purcell worked as an organist at Westminster Abbey. And is a composer and organist for the King in the Chapel Royal, as they call it. And he had an interest in theater music, London being, ever since Shakespeare's day, the world's greatest theater town. Purcell's most enduring opera, Dido and Aeneas, was one of the first written in English. It was actually composed not for a commercial theatre but for a girl's boarding school or finishing school in Chelsea. The opera functions something came to a senior class play because all the parts, except one, were written for girls. These girls had surely studied Virgil's and Nyid in their Latin classes. It was standard Latin to be memorized. And Purcell fashion and opera libretto out of Virgil's poetry. The story, as you may know, is about Aeneas and the Trojan Wars and his flight from Troy. Stopping by Carthage, capturing the heart of Queen Dido, and then abandoning her to go on and found the city of Rome. Alone, broken-hearted, noble Queen Dido sings her last, and then expires. Stabs herself with a sword, or burns herself on a funeral pyre, or dies of a broken heart in the opera. Whatever. As my colleague Tim Rhode has famously said her despair, her despondency is poison enough. The scene of Dido's death, which we will study here, is divided into Dido's recitative and her aria. Here's the music of her recitative. So here with the recitative the music slides down chromatically. [MUSIC] So as you heard, the music is sliding down there. Chromatic scale, a descending chromatic scale is used. Chromaticism in music signals tension and pain. Here, the music descends. Which symbolizes or expresses defeat and resignation, Dido's defeat and resignation. People die down, they don't die up. Downwards equals resignation in life and in music. Then comes the aria. It's written on an ostinato, a repeating bass. The English word for this is a ground bass. A repeating or foundational, a grounding bass. Let me play the, just the bass on the keyboard here. [MUSIC] Okay, so that's the five measure bass. It has a chromatic descent. [MUSIC] Again, more pang, and then a sort of looping around. [MUSIC] To end the five bar phrase. And then up above this, Purcell writes a beautiful aria that we will hear that proceeds with consonance and dissonance. [MUSIC] Now looping back. [MUSIC] And there we are. So, now we're going to watch a video of this, stopping along the way to discuss things such as basso ostinato and basso continuo. [MUSIC] [INAUDIBLE] Okay, here we go. With the recivity, with Dido singing to her servant. [MUSIC] Still falling down here. About half way down. [MUSIC] Okay, recitative, just been accompanied by a string instrument. Now another string instrument starts out here. [MUSIC] Here's our basso ostinato, or ground bass. Just with a low string instrument. Accompaniment comes in with the voice. Orchestra comes in. [MUSIC] Here the loops back and starts all over again. [MUSIC] Base descending chromatically. [MUSIC] Looping back to the tonic. Repeat of the text. Repeat of the melody. Aria repeat texts. Recitative don't repeat text. [MUSIC] >> Now, heads up on the word create. You can hear ornamentation provided by the singer. [MUSIC] Hear how she filled in that interval? Here she'll do it again. [MUSIC] And the ostinato as it loops back. And on the [INAUDIBLE]. So we're going to pause it here. Well that's just one interpretation of this aria. But we're going to go on now to a comparison of two other, two very different approaches to one and the same aria taken by two different singers. Music is communication from creator to listener with the performer as something of a middle man, or in this case, a middle woman, an intermediary. But the intermediary in delivering the message can do so in very different ways, as we'll here. So let's compare singers here. Let's compare intermediaries. We'll start with the early music specialist. She's not a modern opera star, but a specialist in early music, Emma Kirkby. As you listen, think about three things. What's the nature of the singer's voice here? How much vibrato does she use? How much vibrato is there in here mode of singing? Second what's the tempo? Conduct along with the music. It's in three and you'll get a sense of the, of the tempo if you, if you conduct. And three, how powerful is the orchestra? Does it seem like a small, early music orchestra of the baroque period? Or a large, modern symphony? So here's your challenge. Answer those three questions. Here we go. We're starting with Emma Kirkby. [MUSIC] One, two, three, one, two, three, one, two, three. [MUSIC] All right, let's pause it here. We're going to go on now to the reporting of opera star Jesse Norman. And again the same three questions. What's the nature of the singer's voice? How much vibrato does it have? What's the tempo? Conduct along with the music. And three, how powerful is the orchestra? Does it seem like a small, early musical orchestra, or a large, modern one? Let's listen to Jesse Norman now. [MUSIC] So let's pause it here. [MUSIC] Well, what'd you think about these two recordings, the difference between the two? I'd like to know, so go online please and take an interactive quiz responding to the questions posed. You can also answer specific musical questions, and you can tell me which recording you preferred. And why? Again, two very different interpretations of one in the same beautiful aria by Henry Purcell.