September is not a month to miss if you are fond of classical music and turn up to visit Turin and Milan. It is the month of Mito, a classical music festival that takes place every year in these two north Italian cities. The 8th edition of Mito festival  involves numerous talented and famous musicians, singers, orchestra and directors from all over the world, ranging from pianist Marta Argerich to director and composer  Jordi Savall, from soprano Anna Caterina Antonacci to pianist Krystian Zimerman.

The programme is bold and stimulating and proposes a vast variety of events every day; around 99 in 17 days, including the complete works for piano composed by Brahms, Schubert, Mahler and much more.

On September 9th the ancient-instruments orchestra Accademia degli Astrusi performed in Teatro Carignano in Turin an intense and heartbreaking Dido And Aeneas, the British legendary baroque opera composed by Henry Purcell in 1684.

Several questions, along with perplexities concerning the modernity of a baroque opera, arise naturally: what could an opera composed more than four hundred years ago transmit to a modern audience? Is it just a masochistic hobby of some weird opera fans?

Not at all. To be honest, Purcell’s opera is one of the supreme results of British modern culture. And the great thing about that, is that everyone can get something by hearing this. It is not an intellectual composition reserved for some fine musicologists. Dido and Aeneas talks straight to anyone’s heart.

The story is this: Dido, widowed Queen of Carthage, falls in love with the expatriated Aeneas, who is guiding the survivors from the devastated Trojan war towards a new home.

Dido and Aeneas live a short but intense love, until some cruel and vengeful witches mislead Aeneas and convince him that the gods want him to leave Carthage immediately.

Fighting against his duty as chief and founder of a new empire for his people, Aeneas reveals to Dido the will of the gods. Dido commits suicide, abandoning herself to the touching lament “Thy hand, Belinda”, when she asks her sister to not mourn for her and to remember her but not her miserable fate (“Remember me, but ah! Forget my fate”).

Anna Caterina Antonacci shines as a desperate Dido, modulating her bronzed but still magnificent voice. The final lament before dying was a great moment of theatre: her pain was almost palpable, so intense and passionate was she. Accademia degli Astrusi realized an accurate and clear execution of the opera, even though it seemed like they were not very in sync with the Ars Cantica Choir. They may not have had much time to rehearse together.