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Programme Notes:

HENRY PURCELL (1659 – 1695)




Henry Purcell’s five act “dramatic opera” King Arthur was composed to an original libretto written by the poet John Dryden. Dryden first wrote the work as a piece of political propaganda in support of Charles 11 but it was not set to music by Purcell until William & Mary had ascended the throne, being first performed at the Queen’s Theatre, Dorset Garden, London in 1691. The text had then to be altered from the original.  Our performance will have an updated version of the original Dryden narration.

“Opera” in seventeenth century England was not necessarily set to music throughout, but combined music, drama & spectacle. Dryden thought that only supernatural beings & their worshippers or shepherds & servants could properly express themselves in song, so most of the action takes part in speech, here delivered by a narrator.  However, Purcell did not always follow Dryden’s text exactly.

The Baroque Collective
   Violin 1   Alison Bury (leader)
   Violin 2   Julia Bishop
   Viola       Stefanie Heichelheim
   Cello       Anna Holmes
   Bass       Cecelia Bruggemeyer
   Oboe 1  Richard Earle
   Oboe 2  Gail Hennessy
   Trumpet 1 Neil Brough
   Trumpet 2  Paul Sharp
   Theorbo  James Akers
   Harpsichord  Claire Williams

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