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Track(s) taken from CDA67754

The Bloody Battle at Billingsgate 'The Orange – Hit and Miss'

circa 1665; a scolding bout between two young Fish-Women, Doll and Kate
author of text

The City Waites, Lucie Skeaping (director), Douglas Wootton (tenor), Lucie Skeaping (soprano), Catherine Bott (soprano)
Recording details: April 2008
St Paul's Church, New Southgate, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Steve Portnoi & Lucie Skeaping
Engineered by Steve Portnoi
Release date: April 2009
Total duration: 6 minutes 10 seconds

Cover artwork: Bedroom scene by Jan Steen (c1626-1679)
Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'Lucie Skeaping and The City Waites have given us several anthologies worth of enjoyably ribald fare over the years. This is their most substantial project yet … the listener becomes an active participant, imagining the décor, the costumes and attitudes of the characters, and the frequent bouts of slapstick, all of which are enacted as lustily as one expects … great performances, without doubt' (Gramophone)

'These performers … provide a fascinating, informative glimpse into what the general populace of England was enjoying … the singing and instrumental performances are as genially accomplished as ever … skeaping and the Waites let in a bracing breeze' (BBC Music Magazine)

'A truly unusual program of musical comedy all recorded for the first time … these are excellent performances' (American Record Guide)

'Clarity of diction, inventive direction and an infectious sense of fun combine to capture the spirit of the genre' (Early Music Today)

'This is definitely a disc to keep in your car for frustrating traffic-jams or other such moments when a little hilarity would be the perfect tonic. After all, who wouldn't be cheered at the prospect of hearing Catherine Bott and Lucie Skeaping scratching each others eyes out. Laugh? I couldn't stop' (Musical Criticism.com)
This is an example of flyting—a form of (usually good-natured) verbal banter common among the fishwives of London’s Billingsgate Market: ‘When they have done their faire, they meet in mirth, singing and dancing, and in the middle they use scolding and end not till their money or wit be cleane spent out’ (Donald Lupton, 1622). These railing matches were evidently something of a spectacle, with onlookers even awarding a prize for the ‘victor’. The tune called for on the Pepys broadsheet (and used here) is ‘The Orange’. Also known as ‘With a Fading’, it was associated with Jigs, drolls and clowning. We have combined it with another tune, ‘Hit and Miss’.

Kate and Doll, two fishwives

from notes by Lucie Skeaping © 2009

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