Henry Purcell & the Restoration Theatre

Henry Purcell & the Restoration Theatre

Henry Purcell & the Restoration Theatre

Henry Purcell & the Restoration Theatre

Excerpt

This book is a study of Purcell's operas, works of great musical stature which, with the exception of Dido and Aeneas, are almost unknown. Since they are a genre of their own, part spoken play and only part sung, they have been neglected by literary historian and musicologist alike, each being hesitant to encroach upon a field not his own. When one considers the reputation of Purcell and, more important, the quality of the music, this is an absurd situation which has long been in need of correction. The book is therefore addressed as much to students of literature and the theatre as to students of music.

The word 'students' is important. Specialists will inevitably find a great deal here that they already know, indeed whole pages that they will doubtless want to skim, but from the reports of colleagues in departments of music as well as from my own experience with even the most advanced students of English literature, it is quite dear that literary and musical studies seldom meet. A student of literature and a student of music are virtually never combined in the same individual. Outside their own field of study their ignorance can be described only as sizeable. (Unhappily this generalization, not lightly made, applies frequently to the podium no less than to the arena.)

Hence the opening chapter, a discussion of the origins of Purcell's operas, is occupied largely with the nature of baroque entertainment, a background which must be clearly grasped before the operas themselves make much sense. The reader I trust will not be offended if he sometimes recognizes familiar signposts, inevitable I am afraid in this kind of summary. The rest of the book attempts to analyse both libretto and music in the light of their theatrical intentions and effectiveness. After Dido and Aeneas, each of the chapters discusses a different kind of dramatic type and problem: King Arthur the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.