Purcell: The Fairy Queen

Composer Henry Purcell
Artist Carolyn Sampson soprano
Andrew Carwood tenor
Michael Bundy bass
New English Voices
Accademia Bizantina
Ottavio Dantone conductor
Format 2 CD
Cat. number 94221
EAN code 5028421942216
Release March 2012

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About this release

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 musick, others come onely for the musick, 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.

Other information:
- Recorded in 2001
- New addition to the Brilliant Classics Opera Collection.- Includes booklet note and opera synopsis
- Libretto available for download at www.brilliantoperacollection.com
- ‘Accademia Bizantina play with zesty boldness, including deliriously drunken strings for the Drunken Poet. Dantone’s fine singers produce a hatful of highlights… Michael Bundy’s ‘Hush, no more’ is sung with moving sincerity, Dantone perceptive to the mood of the language in its elongated yet tenderly judged pauses, after which New English Voices provide a compassionate and immaculately balanced choral response. Dantone proves to be gifted at judging both extrovert, snappy moments and slowly paced expressive music.' Gramophone, May 2006

Track list

Disk 1

  1. The Fairy Queen: First Music: Prelude
  2. The Fairy Queen: First Music: Hornpipe
  3. The Fairy Queen: Second Music: Aire
  4. The Fairy Queen: Second Music: Rondeau
  5. The Fairy Queen: Act 1: Overture
  6. The Fairy Queen: Act 1: Duet: Come, let us leave the town (GK, ME)
  7. The Fairy Queen: Act 1: Scene of the Drunken Poet (MB, GK, RO)
  8. The Fairy Queen: Act 1: First Act Tune: Jig
  9. The Fairy Queen: Act 2: Solo: Come, all ye songsters (AC)
  10. The Fairy Queen: Act 2: Interlude
  11. The Fairy Queen: Act 2: Terzetto: May the God of Wit inspire (WT, RM, MB)
  12. The Fairy Queen: Act 2: Echo
  13. The Fairy Queen: Act 2: Chorus: Now join your warbling voices all
  14. The Fairy Queen: Act 2: Solo with Chorus: Sing while we trip it (GK)
  15. The Fairy Queen: Act 2: Night: See, even Night herself is here (CS)
  16. The Fairy Queen: Act 2: Mistery: I am come to lock all fast (RO)
  17. The Fairy Queen: Act 2: Secrecy: One charming night (AC)
  18. The Fairy Queen: Act 2: Sleep and Chorus: Hush, no more, be silent all (MB)
  19. The Fairy Queen: Act 2: Dance for the Followers of Night
  20. The Fairy Queen: Act 2: Second Act Tune: Aire
  21. The Fairy Queen: Act 3: Solo with Chorus: If love’s a sweet passion (RO)
  22. The Fairy Queen: Act 3: Symphony while the swans come forward
  23. The Fairy Queen: Act 3: Dance for the Fairies
  24. The Fairy Queen: Act 3: Dance for the Green Man
  25. The Fairy Queen: Act 3: Solo: Ye gentle spirits of the air (CS)
  26. The Fairy Queen: Act 3: Dialogue between Coridon and Mopsa: Now the Maids and the Men (MB, WT)
  27. The Fairy Queen: Act 3: A Nymph: When I have often heard (CS)
  28. The Fairy Queen: Act 3: Dance of the Haymakers
  29. The Fairy Queen: Act 3: Solo with Chorus: A thousand, thousand ways (AC)
  30. The Fairy Queen: Act 3: Third Act Tune: Hornpipe

Disk 2

  1. The Fairy Queen: Act 4: Symphony
  2. The Fairy Queen: Act 4: Attendant and Chorus: Now the night is chas'd away (CS)
  3. The Fairy Queen: Act 4: Two Other Attendants: Let the fife and the clarions (AC, RM)
  4. The Fairy Queen: Act 4: Entry of Phoebus
  5. The Fairy Queen: Act 4: Phoebus: When a cruel, long Winter (AC)
  6. The Fairy Queen: Act 4: Chorus: Hail! Great Parent of us all
  7. The Fairy Queen: Act 4: Spring: Thus the ever grateful Spring (CS)
  8. The Fairy Queen: Act 4: Summer: Here's the Summer, sprightly, gay (WT)
  9. The Fairy Queen: Act 4: Autumn: See my many colour'd fields (AC)
  10. The Fairy Queen: Act 4: Winter: Now Winter come slowly (MB)
  11. The Fairy Queen: Act 4: Chorus: Hail! Great Parent of us all
  12. The Fairy Queen: Act 4: Fourth Act Tune: Aire
  13. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: Prelude
  14. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: Epithalamium – Juno: Thrice happy lovers (RO)
  15. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: The Plaint: O let me ever, ever weep (CS)
  16. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: Entry Dance
  17. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: Symphony
  18. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: A Chinese Man: Thus the gloomy world (AC)
  19. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: A Chinese Woman and Chorus: Thus happy and free (GK)
  20. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: A Chinese Man: Yes, Daphne, in your looks I find (AC)
  21. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: Monkeys’ Dance
  22. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: First Chinese Woman: Hark, how all things (RO)
  23. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: Second Chinese Woman and Chorus: Hark, the echoing air (CS)
  24. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: Two Chinese Women and Chorus: Sure the dull God of Marriage (GK, RO)
  25. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: Prelude
  26. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: Hymen: See, I obey (MB)
  27. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: Two Chinese Women: Turn then thine eyes (GK, RO)
  28. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: Hymen: My torch indeed (MB)
  29. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: Chaconne: Dance for a Chinese Man and Woman
  30. The Fairy Queen: Act 5: Two Chinese Women and Hymen with Chorus: They shall be as happy (GK, RO, ME)