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© Peter Janssen/ Krachtigkaal



Avant-première: 12th & 13th February 2022 - Scenario Pubblico (IT)

Première: 19th February  2022 - Schouwburg De Lawei (NL)

European Tour - February/ May 2022

Tour dates


Henry Purcell's 

Dido and Aeneas


Samir Calixto & Erika Poletto

Light Design: Pavla Beranová

Dido  Æneas Us & All is a co-production of Matter Affects  (NL), Scenario Pubblico (IT),

Schouwburg de Lawei (NL) ,StepText Dance Project (DE),

Dansverkstæðið (IS) & Ungmennafélag Stokkseyrar (IS)

Supported by Fonds Podiumkunsten, BNG Cultuurfonds and Gravin van Bylandt Stichting


      Take hold tightly; let go lightly. This is one of the great secrets of felicity in love. For every Romeo and Juliet tragedy arising from the external circumstances of the two parties, a thousand tragedies arise from the circumstances created by the lovers themselves. As they seldom know the moment or the way to 'take hold' of each other, so they even more rarely know the way or the moment to let go.’

A.R. Orage - On Love



       In the second half of the seventeenth-century British composer Henry Purcell wrote what was to become one of the most important operas of the baroque era. Dido and Aeneas not only represented then a milestone in the genre, but still remains a landmark in the history of music as well as in Western culture. The work, inspired by books V and VI from Virgil’s Aeneid, focuses on the tragic love history between the title characters, but yet it reaches far beyond that.

      It is by searching the limits between romantic and spiritual love in this epic work that choreographer Samir Calixto will venture through the journey of making this new piece. By looking at our eternal longing for our other half, and yet the curious paradox of one’s inevitable sense of solitude once that one is found, this new choreography will look at love from a larger spectrum: our limited vision of love which is never satisfied versus a broader, universal love which lies in mutual freedom and the comprehension of our place within a larger scheme - a theme so recurrent on the choreographer’s body of work.

      In this new piece, accepting one’s own inherent solitary state, in almost voluntary isolation, defines a personal journey of becoming a more conscious human being. Two dancers - Calixto himself and Italian dancer Erika Poletto - will venture into this physical journey where the intensity of dance will unveil what the many shades and experience of love can be, in a profound search for its utmost significance.


'Dido Æneas Us & All is a visually rich, compelling performance, carried by the beautiful music of Purcell (...) it is certainly not a work that is easy to fathom, but that does not make it any less fascinating. In his work, Calixto looks for the connection between the generally human and a larger cosmic truth. This performance is an intriguing example of that.'


"Love limits and delimits us but, at the same time, it frees us in our most authentic being and potentialities, it strengthens us in our deepest vitality or it can depress us to the point of killing (...) Calixto presented himself to the Catanese public with a powerful, conceptually complex and intellectually challenging show."


Gli Stati Generali

"Calixto has used Purcell’s opera in its entirety on which to base his piece but apart from that he did everything himself – choreography, performing and designing. And, daunting though the task may appear, he has accomplished it brilliantly. (...)  Dido Aeneas Us & All is more than an outstanding piece of dance – it is powerful drama and exciting theatre and bodes well for Samir Calixto and his new company'."


ArtsTalk Magazine


Love and the invisible apocalypse

Program essay by Samir Calixto


         It is undeniable: our present situation, which sees us facing the long-lasting effects of a pandemic, the visible payoff of our negligence towards our planet, and things that might still escape our comprehension, permeates everything we do and say in the current days. Escaping the impact of the overwhelming waves of change is no longer an option.

         A similar change contextualizes the time in which the opera Dido and Aeneas was composed. At that time our world went through a radical shift in the way we understood the phenomena around us, and the way we placed ourselves within the greater whole. As the Old World continued to expand its empires across the seas mankind went through what is historically known as the Scientific Revolution. Among many things, evolutions in the field of astronomy were crucial to this shift, as Copernicus heliocentric model revolutionized the way we looked at our place in the universe just a century before. Galileo used the newly invented telescope to further such discoveries and Johannes Kepler aimed to define fundamental laws which intended somehow to marry the disparities between the scientific and the spiritual.

         Many of us can sense that we are standing on a similar threshold right now, a moment when the comprehension of our place in the greater whole is being challenged, guiding us to a further understanding of our own nature. This age of utter confusion, in which every sense of (false) security is being challenged, might be the most fertile terrain for the setting of new paradigms. And, who knows, the revelation of some wider knowledge.

         This is exactly what lies behind the roots of the word ‘apocalypse’: in some of the oldest religious concepts the term alludes to a vision of hidden secrets that can make sense of earthly realities. Sure, it might involve catastrophic, cataclysmic events, but not necessarily. It can also install itself among us in forms invisible to our eyes, yet detectable to the insight of those who are able to read the signs. Such shift in our common living seems imminent, despite our attempt to cling into our old ways as well as our failed social, economic and personal structures. But natural forces beyond our power seem to steer ever so more strongly the wheel of earth’s pace into a direction which is independent from our will. Seeing things from that perspective, it is not far fetched to say that we live in rather apocalyptic times. Not the end of the world per se, but eventually the end of the world as we have known until now. The current ‘apocalypse’ is unlike what we often see on ludicrous disaster movies or as portrayed in Christian literature. It is slow, deceivingly silent and rather invisible.

         In critical times such as these, we seem to develop the urge to look at ourselves with sharper eyes, and to redefine our relationship not only to the world but also to the people around us. In the imminence of a profound change we are confronted to our best and our worst, and that is usually manifested more clearly in the relationship with our loved ones. In this inevitable reassessment of who we are, we are heavily confronted among other things to our (in)capacity of loving, and of being loved. Or even further: of questioning what love truly might be. If we look at the question with honesty, we might realize that what we usually define as love might be a mere chain of chemical reactions, heavily influenced by psycho-physical and social circumstances, and that true love might be something deeper, of rare manifestation. And, most importantly, it can only be manifested when (and if) we consciously prepare ourselves for it.

         Dido and Aeneas is a myth about love. Like all myths, it carries some truth about our own nature. So does Purcell’s opera, which has endured through all these centuries thanks to its clear emotional layers, superb compactness and dazzling music. The doomed love story between the protagonists is archetypical, and the tragedy of separation painted with an unsurpassed poignancy. But what is also remarkable – and that is in the centre of this new work – is how the characters seem to be played by forces beyond their power. What threatens their happiness is something also invisible, hard to tackle. Witches, storms, visions… all allegories of (super)natural forces in action. We can see them as metaphors of how impotent we are when facing the unknown, thanks to our inability to understand the dynamics operating around and within us. This is a fact that we need to recognize. Although not knowing is an intrinsic part of our human experience – since many scientific or spiritual principles are still inaccessible to most of us - this condition is aggravated by the way we seem to ignore the correspondence between what happens in our microsphere and the wide universe. Ancient civilizations seem to have understood that better somehow, and an example of that lies in the very crisis we are facing right now. We are experiencing how much the invisibility of a threat, added to the helplessness provided by our own ignorance, makes it ever so more dangerous. We are watching our certainties crumble on a daily basis, like the affair between many ‘Didos and Aeneasses’, as many empires and civilizations did across the centuries. Should we resist or should we embrace the waves of change?

         With all this said, this new creation goes beyond the failed love story it portrays: it touches the struggle of US, amidst it ALL. It is an attempt (and opportunity), in an age of turmoil, to help us assess and possibly distinguish those convoluted emotions that we might call love from a universal love: a form of love which lies beyond ourselves and which is part of every material and immaterial manifestation in our universe. It includes what our eyes, a telescope, a microscope, a space mission can see, but also what they cannot. Making that distinction might help us realize that the way of contemporary men might not be aligned to the transformative needs of nature. What we see as tragedy might be just the natural, evolutive course of things… or an odd expression of a greater love, expressed through the mystery of constant creation. An idea very far from our common understanding dominated by fear of facing the end of things as part of a natural, necessary process.

         The same is valid for what we can hear through Purcell’s profound music. If we listen well, we might catch glimpses of the music of the spheres which are constantly dancing and singing around us, manifesting a greater form of love beyond of what, in the scale of the universe, are events of a different measure. It is all up to us, to how much we wish to see, to hear… and to let go.


          Samir Calixto

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