PURCELL The Fairy Queen. Carolyn Sampson, Andrew Carwood, Michael Bundy, New English Voices, Accademia Bizantina / Ottavio Dantone. Brilliant Classics 2cds

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Purcell The Fairy Queen Ottavio Dantone Brilliant Classics 2Cds

PURCELL

The Fairy Queen

Semi-opera in five acts

Carolyn Sampson - soprano (CS)

Andrew Carwood - tenor (AC)

Michael Bundy - bass (MB)

Gillian Keith - soprano I (GK)

Rebecca Outram - soprano II (RO)

William Towers - countertenor (WT)

Robert Murray - tenor (RM)

New English Voices chorus master - Michael McCarthy

Accademia Bizantina / Ottavio Dantone

CD 1

First Music

1 Prelude 1’51

2 Hornpipe 0’53

Second Music

3 Aire 0’50

4 Rondeau 1’12

Act 1

5 Overture 1’27

6 Duet: Come, let us leave the town (GK, ME) 2’18

7 Scene of the Drunken Poet (MB, GK, RO) 6’41

8 First Act Tune: Jig 1’15

Act 2

9 Solo: Come, all ye songsters (AC) 2’21

10 Interlude 0’58

11 Terzetto: May the God of Wit inspire (WT, RM, MB) 1’09

12 Echo 1’25

13 Chorus: Now join your warbling voices all 0’32

14 Solo with Chorus: Sing while we trip it (GK) 2’23

Fairies Dance

15 Night: See, even Night herself is here (CS) 5’37

16 Mistery: I am come to lock all fast (RO) 0’58

17 Secrecy: One charming night (AC) 2’27

18 Sleep and Chorus: Hush, no more, be silent all (MB) 4’39

19 Dance for the Followers of Night 1’15

20 Second Act Tune: Aire 1’11

Act 3

21 Solo with Chorus: If love’s a sweet passion (RO) 3’53

22 Symphony while the swans come forward 1’35

23 Dance for the Fairies 0’48

24 Dance for the Green Man 1’21

25 Solo: Ye gentle spirits of the air (CS) 5’33

26 Dialogue between Coridon and Mopsa: 3’50

Now the Maids and the Men (MB, WT)

27 A Nymph: When I have often heard (CS) 2’29

28 Dance of the Haymakers 0’59

29 Solo with Chorus: A thousand, thousand ways (AC)

2’24

30 Third Act Tune: Hornpipe 1’00

Total time: 65’19

CD 2

Act 4

1 Symphony 6’49

2 Attendant and Chorus: Now the night is chas'd away (CS) 2’04

3 Two Other Attendants: Let the fife and the clarions (AC, RM) 1’28

4 Entry of Phoebus 0’41

5 Phoebus: When a cruel, long Winter (AC) 2’45

6 Chorus: Hail! Great Parent of us all 1’51

7 Spring: Thus the ever grateful Spring (CS) 2’03

8 Summer: Here's the Summer, sprightly, gay (WT) 1’24

9 Autumn: See my many colour'd fields (AC) 3’05

10 Winter: Now Winter come slowly (MB) 2’32

11 Chorus: Hail! Great Parent of us all 1’04

12 Fourth Act Tune: Aire 1’04

Act 5

13 Prelude 1’03

14 Epithalamium – Juno: Thrice happy lovers (RO)

2’46

15 The Plaint: O let me ever, ever weep (CS) 7’58

16 Entry Dance 1’33

17 Symphony 1’03

18 A Chinese Man: Thus the gloomy world (AC) 5’00

19 A Chinese Woman and Chorus: Thus happy and free (GK) 1’11

20 A Chinese Man: Yes, Daphne, in your looks I find (AC) 2’05

21 Monkeys’ Dance 0’56

22 First Chinese Woman: Hark, how all things (RO) 2’04

23 Second Chinese Woman and Chorus: Hark, the echoing air (CS) 2’36

24 Two Chinese Women and Chorus: 3’10

Sure the dull God of Marriage (GK, RO)

25 Prelude 0’22

26 Hymen: See, I obey (MB) 2’04

27 Two Chinese Women: Turn then thine eyes (GK, RO) 0’45

28 Hymen: My torch indeed (MB) 1’01

29 Chaconne: Dance for a Chinese Man and Woman 2’34

30 Two Chinese Women and Hymen with Chorus: 1’54

They shall be as happy (GK, RO, ME)

Total time: 67’07

Co-produced with Ravenna Festival

The Fairy Queen is one of Purcell’s most popular operas, based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It contains some of his best music, both vocal and instrumental, giving proof of Purcell’s theatrical genius. A strong English cast is supported by the brilliant and zesty ensemble of Accademia Bizantina, conducted by Ottavio Dantone, a leading specialist in the Early Music scene. New addition to the Brilliant Classics Opera Collection.

Prior to Handel’s arrival in London, and the influence of Italian opera that he brought with him, English opera was known as ‘semi opera’ – a blend of drama, music, spoken word, elaborate stage sets, costumes and special effects. Roger North, a contemporary observer, described the genre rather disparagingly, complaining: ‘Some come for the play and hate the music, others come only for the music, and the drama is penance to them, and scarce any are well reconciled to both’. However, ‘semi opera’ nevertheless inspired Purcell to compose some remarkable theatre music, with The Fairy Queen his masterpiece in the genre. This semi-opera is based somewhat freely on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and was given its premiere at the Dorset Garden Theatre, London in 1692. The performance was a huge success, and went through a successful revision, before the score mysteriously vanished.

In 1701, six years after Purcell’s death, a reward was announced for its return. However, it was 200 years before the music was finally recovered in the library of the Royal Academy of Music in 1903. The Fairy Queen contains some of Purcell’s finest music, and the masques at the end of each act stand out as masterpieces of Baroque opera. The magical world of Titania and Oberon is superbly evoked by the music – night, winter, sleep, love, magic and comedy are all brilliantly realised in highly atmospheric settings.

Brilliant Classics 2cds 94221

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