Opera stars stage 'floating' Purcell performance

Singers including Helen Jane Howells, Elin Manahan Thomas and Robert Davies performed on a stage suspended above the Roman Baths as part of a unique production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas.

Dido and Aeneas Roman Baths

A new production of Purcell's opera, Dido and Aeneas, saw singers perform on an open-air, floating stage at Bath's Roman Baths. Singers including Helen Jane Howells, Elin Manahan Thomas and Robert Davies performed alongside Baroque ensemble Florilegium, and students from the Royal College of Music at two stagings of the opera on 29 and 30 May, making use of the historic building's acoustics.

The unique performance space was created by draining the water from the baths and assembling the foundations for the stage. The finished set was assembled using scaffolding a few hours before the performance, creating an 'in the round' performance space.

Bath Festivals spokesperson Tamsin Treverton-Jones explained the appeal of performing Purcell at the UNESCO World Heritage Site: "We've got this extraordinary venue and we have this wonderful opera, set in Carthage, and thanks to the Baths you have this whole Roman atmosphere - so it creates quite an intimate performance. It was incredibly atmospheric."

Dido and Aeneas was performed as part of the 65th Bath International Music Festival. Other notable performances at the Festival, which runs until 2 June, include concerts at a 1930s art deco cinema and in the Assembly Rooms.

Purcell

Henry Purcell Composer Henry Purcell

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