Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Operamania 101: An Astronomical Combination

Mention the word Dido and this might come to mind:

British singer-songwriter of such pop hits as Thank You and White Flag.

Hmmm. Not quite opera for our Operamania 101.

When I think of Dido, I think of 2 genres of music that the word belongs to: opera and electronica. And what's better than appreciating 2 genres separately then appreciating them mashed up together?

If you're at all familiar with the house music scene, you may very well be familiar with Dido by Aria (Armin Van Buuren's Universal Religion Mix), which you can find on Tiesto's Summerbreeze cd.

Considered a huge trance anthem, this song is epic for good reason:

1. It samples the aria from English composer Henry Purcell's opera, Dido and Aeneas. The opera is based on the fourth book of Virgil's Aeneid. In it tells the love story of how a Trojan refugee named Aeneas gets shipwrecked in Carthage and falls in love with its queen, Dido. As love stories in opera are want to do, Aeneas must leave his love behind as he goes back to Rome. Dido finds she can not live without Aeneas and therefore awaits death instead. The name of Dido's lament is When I Am Laid In Earth.

2. It also samples the actual uplink conversation between the crew of the Apollo 7 (Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele and Walt Cunningham) and ground control's Cecil B. de Stafford in 1968 when the crew set up a tv camera inside the spacecraft and the very first television broadcast from space was made.

What you hear at the beginning of the track are as follows:

Hey Don how about saying something since you're paying
Actually I'm amazed, it looks real good
The definition is pretty good down here, I can see the center hatch
We'll have Cecil B deStafford down here directing
Keep those cards and letters coming in folks, it's loud and clear
Yeah... some of the reproductions here are real good, I can look out through Wally's rendezvous window

With such a stunning intro, an intense and powerful aria, scintillating synthesizers and a beat you can't help but move to, this track is a perfect example of what gorgeous music can be made between opera and trance. If you don't believe me, ask all those kids who've danced into the wee hours of the morning to this. Myself included.

~ Ling Chan

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