A dramatic entertainment
devised by Peter Holman

Dramatis Personae
Love has a thousand ways to please, but more to rob us of our ease...




Love's Labyrinth




In seventeenth century England, opera of the modern type - continuously sung musical drama - was a rare commodity. Dido and Aeneas is the only one of Henry Purcell's 50-odd theatre works of this type, the rest of them were written as additions to spoken plays. However, Purcell and his contemporaries wrote many miniature musical dramas in the form of dialogues, which usually feature two characters, a man and a woman, exploring some aspect of the universal drama of love. These dialogues, and the many solo songs that represent in a dramatic form the viewpoint of a single lover, are usually performed today only in concerts, but they benefit from being dramatised.

This programme based on songs, dialogues and instrumental pieces by Purcell and his contemporaries explores the drama of love from infatuation to cynical old age. The main idea is to bring out the dramatic qualities of the individual pieces, and to fit them into a simple narrative so that they answer and comment on each other in a meaningful, quasi-operatic way.

Some of the dialogues and most of the songs in the programme are based on poems of the time, so the evening celebrates the beauty of 17th century poetry as well as its music.

Directed by Jack Edwards
Musical Director: Peter Holman
Design: Robin Linklater
photographs: Caroline Anderson

Music by: Lorenzo Bocchi, Jeremiah Clarke, Giovanni Battista Draghi, John Eccles, Gottfried Finger, Francis Forcer, Robert King, Pelham Humfrey, Henry Purcell and Thomas Williams.