Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen

June 4, 2022, 4:00 pm

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Detail of oil painting, Titania shielding the Indian boy from Oberon.
The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania, 1849, by Sir Joseph Noel Paton

Escape to the magical bower where Titania quarrels with her husband Oberon, while fairies keep watch and do battle with a drunken poet. Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen adapts A Midsummer Night’s Dream deleting many of Shakespeare’s lines and creating occasions for five musical masques to be inserted. Oliver Camacho samples a few of the recent recordings of this 17th theatrical masterpiece — a spectacle for singers, dancers and actors that is a veritable catalogue of musical styles pre-dating the rise of Italian opera in England.


Playlist

All selections from Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, Z. 629 (1692)

Act I
“Fill up the bowl, then…” (Blindfolded Poet, First Fairy, Chorus, Second Fairy)
Rowan Pierce & Mhairi Lawson, sopranos
Ashley Riches, bass-baritone
Gabrieli Consort & Players
Paul McCreesh, conductor
Signum Classics SIGCD-615

Act II
“Come all ye songsters of the sky” (High Tenor)
Symphony in imitation of birds
“May the God of Wit inspire” (High Tenor, Tenor, Bass)
“Now join your warbling voices all” (Chorus)
“Sing while we trip it upon the green” (Fairy, Chorus)
Samuel Boden, tenor
Christophe Baska, countertenor
Julien Picard, tenor
Roman Nédélec, bass-baritone
Virginie Pochon, soprano
Les Nouveaux Caractères
Sébastien d’Hérin, harpsichord & direction
Glossa GCD-922702

“See, even Night herself is here” (Night)
“I am come to lock all fast” (Mystery)
“One charming night” (Secrecy)
“Hush, no more, be silent all” (Sleep, Chorus)
Carolyn Sampson, soprano
Rebecca Outram, soprano
Andrew Carwood, tenor
Michael Bundy, bass
Accademia Bizantina
New English Voices
Ottavio Dantone, conductor
Live from Ravenna Festival, July 10, 2001
Arts 47679-2

Act III
“If love’s a sweet passion” (Nymph, Chorus)
Barbara Bonney, soprano
Arnold Schoenberg Chor
Concentus Musicus Wien
Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor
Teldec 4509 97684-2

“Now the maids and the men are making of hay” (Coridon, Mopsa)
Charles Daniels, tenor
Ashley Riches, bass-baritone
Gabrieli Consort/McCreesh

Act IV
“Now the night is chased away” (First Attendant, Chorus)
“Let the fifes and the clarions and shrill trumpets sound” (Second Attendant, Third Attendant)
Carolyn Sampson, soprano
Jeremy Budd, tenor
James Way, tenor
Gabrieli Consort/McCreesh

Act V
“Thus the gloomy world” (Chinese Man)
Samuel Boden, tenor
Les Nouveaux Caractères/d’Hérin

“Hark! The echoing air a triumph sings” (First Woman, Chorus)
“Sure the dull God of Marriage does not hear” (Two Chinese Women, Chorus)
“They shall be as happy as they’re fair” (Two Chinese Women, Hymen)
Carolyn Sampson, soprano
Gillian Keith & Rebecca Outram, sopranos
Michael Bundy, bass
Accademia Bizantina/Dantone