Annie Lennox releases recording of Purcell’s Dido’s Lament

Posted on 16 November 2020
By Khyle Deen
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One of the most successful, iconic and revered artists in pop music history, Annie Lennox – with over 83 million albums sold – is in the spotlight once again.

Annie Lennox has released “Dido’s Lament” with accompanying music video. The brand new, previously unreleased recording of “Dido’s Lament” is taken from the re-issue of Annie’s A Christmas Cornucopia, released via Island Records on 20th November to mark its 10 year anniversary.

Says Lennox. “For the 10th Anniversary of A Christmas Cornucopia we wanted to offer something a little bit different than the original album. Dido’s Lament was an almost forgotten recording I made a decade ago which was randomly unearthed from (co -producer) Mike Steven’s studio during lockdown earlier this year… It is the most profoundly haunting and melancholic aria from the opera written by English composer Henry Purcell approximately 300 years ago, where heartbroken Dido prepares to commit suicide. It occurred to me there was a comparison to the destruction human beings have brought upon the Planet. When it comes to climate catastrophe, we are on the edge of abyss. I really believe we don’t have much time left to make an effective change. We are looking at a civilization on the downwards side. This is the truth of this matter. It’s staring us in the face and we are not paying any significant attention – continuing on as if it doesn’t exist. I see Dido’s Lament as a lament for our dying planet.”

“Dido’s Lament” is a classical piece written by Henry Purcell in the 17th century referencing the tragic love story of Dido and Aeneas as documented in Virgil’s legendary epic poem, The Aeneid, from the 1st century BC. It is played annually at the Cenotaph remembrance parade on Remembrance Sunday and featured in the BBC’s recent broadcast of Remembrance Sunday 2020. Annie’s recording of “Dido’s Lament” is a unique arrangement of the classical piece, arranged by herself and Mike Stevens.

Premiered by Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 2, “Dido’s Lament” is released with an accompanying music video depicting a Victorian magic lantern show. The show starts with the wonders of the natural world, but soon becomes a stark warning of the future and an elegiac lament to the death of the Earth

“Dido’s Lament” is the closing track on the digitally remastered version of Annie’s sixth solo album, A Christmas Cornucopia which features a new track listing and new artwork (across all formats – vinyl, CD and digital). A collection of inspired interpretations of traditional festive songs, A Christmas Cornucopia is rounded out by a Lennox composition, “Universal Child”.

All proceeds earned from Annie’s original composition on the album, “Universal Child”, will be paid to The Annie Lennox Foundation. The Annie Lennox Foundation raises money for various charitable projects, primarily those supporting and educating women and children in Africa and people with HIV/Hepatitis C in Scotland.

The music on A Christmas Cornucopia was mostly played by Lennox, in collaboration with co producer Mike Stevens, and originally recorded in his southwest London studio – at the bottom of his garden in 2010. But to achieve the resonance and vibrancy that were integral to Lennox’s ideas for these re-energized reboots, the pair also worked with a 30-piece orchestra at Pinewood Studios. And they travelled further afield too: to South Africa, to record with the African Children’s Choir, a remarkable organization with which impassioned campaigner and activist Lennox has long had a relationship.

A Christmas Cornucopia is far from a saccharine packaged selection box. As befits its title, it offers an abundant track listing drawn from British, French and German traditions covering the well-known alongside more untrodden ground. It’s broad spectrum encompasses a wide range of narratives and emotions – from joyful and celebratory thorough melancholic and haunting to poignant and timely. On “Lullay Lullay”, for example, Lennox draws direct links between the Nativity and the plight of Africa’s child soldiers.

Vibrant but vintage, classic and contemporary, glorious but with a polemical edge, Annie Lennox’s A Christmas Cornucopia is no ordinary collection of seasonal songs.