The Tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage

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The Tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage is a short play by Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)[1], with possible contributions by Thomas Nashe (1567-1601)[2].

Often simply referred to as Dido, Queen of Carthage.

The original text

The play was seemingly first performed by the Children of the Chapel sometime between 1587 and 1593. It was first published as The Tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage in 1594.

Translations and adaptations

There are two works that may have been inspired by Marlowe's work:

The 18th-century English composer Stephen Storace wrote an opera titled Dido, Queen of Carthage (1794), but the only surviving text was lost in a fire in 1801.

A burlesque version of the story of Dido, called Dido, the Celebrated Widow (or The Widow Dido) and termed a "New and Original Extravaganza" was written by Francis Cowley Burnand (1836–1917)[3] and first performed at the Royalty Theatre , London, in 1860 and published in Lacy's acting edition by T.H. Lacy in 1865. To what extent Burnand's version had been inspired by Marlowe's play is uncertain, since Burnand was a renowned classicist and author of classics-based burlesques. For details of the performances of this particular work, see Dido, the Celebrated Widow

Performance history in South Africa

1860-1: A short musical work called Dido, Queen of Carthage (described as "Grand Musical, Classical and Picturesque Extravaganza in One Act" and attributed to "Burnand"), was performed in Cape Town in the 1860-1861 season. However, this is most probably not based on Marlowe's work, but a version of the burlesque Dido, the Celebrated Widow (Burnand, 1860)


F.C.L. Bosman. 1980. Drama en Toneel in Suid-Afrika, Deel II, 1856-1916. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik: pp.155-9

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