Dido & Aeneas and The Zoo: the directors

Music director JUSTIN BINDLEY:

Dido and Aeneas was the first real British opera. I believe that it was based upon early Italian work but is distinctly British in the way Purcell uses recitative. (Britten used recitative in a similar way and he was greatly influenced by Arthur Sullivan.) For me, it has a musical truthfulness and is a very emotional experience. This might be why it connects with modern audiences.

I've sung Aeneas many times, most recently in 2012 when, for Voices2go, I also trained all the soloists and chorus but didn't conduct as I was singing! Incidentally, 'When I am laid in earth' was recently voted by Radio 3 listeners the best opera aria of all time.

Director, Dido & Aeneas, DON CRERAR:

I have loved the music of this opera from the first time I heard it, with Janet Baker in the title role back in the seventies, and so I'm overjoyed to find myself directing this wonderful piece.

What I think makes it so thrilling is the violence of the emotion, constrained within a very strict, formal structure, creating a tension which is exceptionally moving and exciting. The harmonies are beautiful throughout, there is a wide variety of mood from the most joyous abandon to the deepest desolation, and not a single note is wasted. Unlike in Purcell's other staged compositions, which are really just a series of songs loosely strung together, the action makes sense dramatically, and we have a central character with whom the audience can seriously identify.

Director, The Zoo, JIM PETTS:

Many moons ago Jim sang in The Zoo, taking the part of Aesculapius Carboy; his voice, in his own words, 'occupying the strange no-man's land between tenor and baritone'. One of the lesser known Sullivan works, he thinks that The Zoo, 'though it lacks Gilbert's satirical bite, is still a fine piece of typically silly British humour'.