Mark Morris has said that he first imagined choreographing and dancing Dido and Aeneas as a solo. It was the mid-1980s, and the AIDS epidemic was ravaging the dance world. “I just assumed because I am selfish that I was next,” he told Joan Acocella in 2009. “Before I die, let me make up this dance about love and sex and death.”1 He decided, ultimately, to expand the cast, and the production that premiered at the Théâtre Varia in Brussels in 1989 distributed the roles across his company. But there remains in the dance he created some evidence of his original conception, and that conception—its solipsism and its lonely grandeur—is a key to the way Morris read the Purcell opera and the Nahum Tate libretto that he chose (as it happened, prematurely) to...

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