“It’s kind of a perfect double-bill tragedy.” That’s how choreographer and director Mark Morris describes his program next week at Tanglewood. In the first half, Morris will direct fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center in Benjamin Britten’s rarely staged “Curlew River,” which tells the story of a madwoman in search of her missing child. After intermission, Morris’s dance company will join the TMC for his version of Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” which has become one of Morris’s most enduring creations since its1989 premiere.
The pairing, which was the brainchild of the TMC’s director, Ellen Highstein, is in part a recognition of the Britten centenary being observed this year. But there is also a network of connections and contrasts between them. Britten, as Morris pointed out in a phone conversation, was “a gigantic devotee” of Purcell’s music (though Morris also said that he found Britten’s recorded version of Dido “close to boring”). Each work is about an hour long and dominated by the presence of a tragic heroine.