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King Arthur, or The British Worthy, Z628

composer
1691
author of text

 
Act I Scene 1 A scene in Kent. It is the morning of St George’s Day. In a series of ten battles, Arthur, Conon and the Britons have driven the Saxon invaders back to Kent and now prepare to repel them from their kingdom. Arthur and Emmeline, his betrothed, bid farewell before the final confrontation.

Act I Scene 2 A scene of heathen worship and sacrifice. Images of three Saxon gods, Woden, or and Freya, are placed on pedestals around an altar. The spirit Grimbald has procured victims to sacrifice and enters with six Saxons dressed in white, with swords in their hands. They arrange themselves in two groups of three, opposite each other, surrounded by priests and singers. Woden, first to thee. The victims are reminded of the honour of sacrifice and the glories of the afterlife; they will soon be drinking the vanquished Britons’ ale in Valhalla. Brave souls / I call you all. The six Saxons are led off by the priests.

Act I Scene 3 A battle behind the scenes. Drums, trumpets, military shouts and alarms are heard, after which the Britons, expressing their joy for the victory, sing a song of triumph. Come if you dare.

Act II Scene 1 A bloodied battlefield. Merlin and his spirits descend to Philidel, on a chariot drawn by dragons. Philidel defects to Merlin’s protection and warns the pursuing Britons to beware of Grimbald’s treachery. Grimbald enters, dressed as a shepherd, followed by Arthur, Conon and soldiers, who remain at a distance. Both Philidel and Grimbald vie for the Britons’ trust. Hither, this way / Let not a moonborn elf mislead ye. Philidel prevails and Grimbald sinks with a flash. Philidel and the spirits go off singing, with King Arthur and the rest in the middle of them. Come, follow me.

Act II Scene 2 A pavilion near the battlefield. A crew of Kentish lads and lasses entertain Emmeline whilst she awaits Arthur’s return. How blest are shepherds. The men offer their ‘flutes’ to the women, which they refuse. Shepherd, shepherd, leave decoying. The women present marriage contracts to the men, which are accepted. All sing and dance. Come, shepherds, lead up a lively measure. Oswald appears and then abducts Emmeline; Arthur unsuccessfully bargains his Kingdom for her return.

Act III Scene 1 e edge of an enchanted wood, beyond which stands Oswald’s castle on a hilltop. Merlin counsels Arthur that, with Philidel’s aid, he will lead him through the Saxon magician Osmond’s enchanted wood to rescue Emmeline and restore her sight.

Act III Scene 2 Deeper in the enchanted wood. Grimbald ambushes Philidel, but Philidel prevails, binds Grimbald, and restores Emmeline’s sight. Arthur and Emmeline’s joy is cut short by the approach of Osmond, also in love with Emmeline, who has betrayed Oswald, his former master. Osmond attempts to impress Emmeline with a magical pageant celebrating the power of love. e scene suddenly changes to a prospect of winter in frozen countries. Cupid descends. What ho, thou genius of this isle. The Cold Genius is summoned, reluctantly, from his ‘beds of everlasting snow’. What power art thou. Cupid waves his wand, upon which the stage is further transformed, revealing another prospect of ice and snow through which singers and dancers appear. See, see, we assemble. Cupid and the Cold Genius lead the singers and dancers in praise of love. ’Tis love that has warm’d us / Sound a parley. Emmeline, unmoved, rejects Osmond; he attempts to rape her but is distracted by Grimbald’s cries for help.

Act IV Scene 1 The same wood. Grimbald creates images of seduction within Osmond’s wood to ensnare Arthur. Soft Musick. As Arthur moves towards a bridge, two Sirens arise from the water, and show themselves naked to the waist. Two daughters of this aged stream. As Arthur goes forward, Nymphs and Sylvans come out from behind the trees, dancing and singing with branches in their hands. Passacaglia: How happy the lover. Arthur hacks at the trees with his sword to break the illusions. In one final magical deception, a wounded tree appears as Emmeline. Arthur falters, but Philidel appears and reveals that the vision is in fact Grimbald. Arthur dispels the enchantment and Philidel drags off Grimbald.

Act V Scene 1 The same wood. The Britons march on Oswald’s castle. After much fighting, Arthur triumphs over Oswald but immediately offers him forgiveness. Arthur and Emmeline embrace. Merlin casts Osmond into the dungeon. Arthur and Oswald agree to live henceforth in peace and harmony: ‘Britons and Saxons shall be once one people; one common tongue, one common faith shall bind our jarring bands, in a perpetual peace.’

Act V Scene 2 Merlin conjures a masque for Arthur, celebrating the future glories of the united nation. Waving his wand, the scene suddenly changes, revealing the British ocean in a storm, with Aeolus, the god of the four winds, appearing in a cloud above. Ye blust’ring brethren of the skies. Aeolus then ascends, and the four winds disappear, disclosing a calm sea from which an island arises. Soft tune. Britannia is seated on the island, with fishermen and attendants at her feet. e fishermen come ashore, singing and dancing. Round thy coasts, fair nymph of Britain. Shepherds sing of the pleasure and profitability of British wool farming. For folded flocks. Comus, the god of festivity and revels, leads a rustic drinking song. Your hay it is mow’d. Venus, the goddess of love, enters to pay homage to Albion, seat of all beauty, pleasure and love. Fairest isle, all isles excelling.

Act V Scene 3 A ‘Warlike Consort’ announces the final change of scene. Tune for trumpets. The regalia and heraldry of the Order of the Garter are revealed. Fame, attended by Honour and Heroes, leads a paean to Britannia, St George and the Order of the Garter. Sound heroes, your brazen trumpets sound / Let all rehearse in lofty verse.

Paul McCreesh & Christopher Suckling © 2019

Recordings

Purcell: King Arthur
SIGCD589Download only 25 October 2019 Release
Purcell: The Complete Ayres for the Theatre
CDS44381/33CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Purcell: A Purcell collection
Studio Master: SIGCD375Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Purcell: Songs and Dialogues
CDH55065Archive Service
Essential Purcell
KING2Super-budget price sampler — Archive Service
Fairest Isle
CDA67115Archive Service
Purcell: Mr Henry Purcell's Most Admirable Composures
CDH55303Archive Service
Purcell: Music for a while & other songs
CDA66070Archive Service
Sound the Trumpet
CDH55258Archive Service

Details

Act 3: What power art thou 'Cold song'
Track 6 on SIGCD375 [4'26] Download only
Act 4: How happy the lover
Track 5 on SIGCD375 [6'19] Download only
Act 5. Song: Fairest isle, all isles excelling
Track 2 on CDA67115 [3'53] Archive Service
Track 8 on CDA66070 [2'02] Archive Service
Track 6 on CDH55303 [3'58] Archive Service
Track 12 on KING2 [3'58] Super-budget price sampler — Archive Service
Track 13 on SIGCD375 [4'40] Download only
Act 5: Symphony in C major
Track 15 on CDH55258 [1'53] Archive Service
Movement: For love ev'ry creature is formed by his nature
Track 14 on CDH55065 [1'21] Archive Service
Movement: You say 'tis love
Track 13 on CDH55065 [5'43] Archive Service
No 01: Aire, from Amphitryon
Track 1 on SIGCD589 CD1 [1'04] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 02: Minuett, from Amphitryon
Track 2 on SIGCD589 CD1 [1'05] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 03: Hornpipe, from Amphitryon
Track 3 on SIGCD589 CD1 [1'10] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 04: Scotch tune, from Amphitryon
Track 4 on SIGCD589 CD1 [0'58] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 05: Overture
Track 5 on SIGCD589 CD1 [1'48] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 06: Aire
Track 6 on SIGCD589 CD1 [1'36] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 07. Verse & Chorus: Woden, first to thee – We have sacrific'd
Track 7 on SIGCD589 CD1 [2'34] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 08. Verse & Chorus: The white horse neigh'd aloud – To Woden thanks we render
Track 8 on SIGCD589 CD1 [1'17] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 09. Verse & Chorus: The lot is cast – Brave souls
Track 9 on SIGCD589 CD1 [2'42] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 10. Song & Chorus: I call you all to Woden's hall
Track 10 on SIGCD589 CD1 [2'02] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 11. Prelude, Song & Chorus: Come if you dare, our trumpets sound
Track 11 on SIGCD589 CD1 [3'19] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 12: Prelude: Aire
Track 12 on SIGCD589 CD1 [0'41] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 13. Song & Chorus: Hither this way (Philidel/chorus)
Track 13 on SIGCD589 CD1 [2'12] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 14. Song: Let not a moonborn elf mislead ye (Grimbald)
Track 14 on SIGCD589 CD1 [1'17] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 15. Chorus: Hither this way
Track 15 on SIGCD589 CD1 [0'37] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 16. Verse & Chorus: Come, follow me
Track 16 on SIGCD589 CD1 [2'12] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 17. Prelude, Song & Chorus: How blest are shepherds (Shepherd/chorus)
Track 17 on SIGCD589 CD1 [5'24] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 18. Prelude & Song: Shepherd, shepherd, leave decoying (Two Shepherdesses)
Track 18 on SIGCD589 CD1 [1'57] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 19. Chorus & Dance: Come, shepherds, lead up a lively measure
Track 19 on SIGCD589 CD1 [1'27] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 20: Second Act tune: Rondeau, from Distress'd innocency
Track 20 on SIGCD589 CD1 [0'53] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 21. Prelude & Verse: What ho, thou Genius of this isle! (Cupid)
Track 21 on SIGCD589 CD1 [1'20] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 22. Prelude & Song: What power art thou (Cold Genius)
Track 22 on SIGCD589 CD1 [2'19] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 23. Song: Thou doting fool, forbear (Cupid)
Track 23 on SIGCD589 CD1 [0'50] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 24. Song: Great Love, I know thee now (Cold Genius)
Track 24 on SIGCD589 CD1 [0'59] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 25. Verse: No part of my dominion shall be waste (Cupid)
Track 25 on SIGCD589 CD1 [0'55] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 26. Chorus & Dance: See, see, we assemble
Track 26 on SIGCD589 CD1 [2'32] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 27. Prelude, Song & Chorus: 'Tis I that have warn'd ye – 'Tis Love that has warm'd us (Cupid/chorus)
Track 27 on SIGCD589 CD1 [2'48] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 28. Song: Sound a parley (Cupid/Cold Genius)
Track 28 on SIGCD589 CD1 [2'29] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 29. Chorus: 'Tis Love that has warn'd us
Track 29 on SIGCD589 CD1 [1'47] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 30: Third Act tune: Aire
Track 30 on SIGCD589 CD1 [1'12] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 31: Soft music: Aire, from Bonduca
Track 1 on SIGCD589 CD2 [2'55] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 32. Song: Two daughters of this aged stream are we (Two Sirens)
Track 2 on SIGCD589 CD2 [3'12] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 33. Passacaglia: Verse & Chorus: How happy the lover – For love ev'ry creature
Track 3 on SIGCD589 CD2 [5'06] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 34. Song by Mr Howe: You say, 'tis Love creates the pain (He/She)
Track 4 on SIGCD589 CD2 [5'09] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 35: Fourth Act tune: Hornpipe
Track 5 on SIGCD589 CD2 [0'53] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 36: Prelude: Rondeau, from The old bachelor
Track 6 on SIGCD589 CD2 [0'41] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 37. Prelude & Song: Ye blust'ring brethren – Serene and clam (Aeolus)
Track 7 on SIGCD589 CD2 [3'04] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 38: Soft tune
Track 8 on SIGCD589 CD2 [2'04] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 39. Prelude, Song & Chorus: Round thy coasts (Nereid/chorus)
Track 9 on SIGCD589 CD2 [2'22] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 40. Song: For folded flocks (Three Shepherds)
Track 10 on SIGCD589 CD2 [2'57] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 41. Song & Dance: Your hay it is mow'd (Comus/Peasants)
Track 11 on SIGCD589 CD2 [2'38] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 42. Prelude & Song: Fairest isle, all isles excelling (Venus)
Track 12 on SIGCD589 CD2 [3'36] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 43: Tune for trumpets, after Dioclesian
Track 13 on SIGCD589 CD2 [0'42] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 44. New Song & Chorus for Britannia and St George: Sound Heroes, your brazen trumpets sound! – Let all rehearse (Fame/chorus)
Track 14 on SIGCD589 CD2 [5'37] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
No 45: Grand dance: Chaconne
Track 15 on SIGCD589 CD2 [3'17] Download only 25 October 2019 Release
Suite. Movement 01: Overture
Track 10 on CDS44381/3 CD1 [3'38] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Suite. Movement 02: Air
Track 11 on CDS44381/3 CD1 [1'06] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Suite. Movement 03: Air
Track 12 on CDS44381/3 CD1 [1'18] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Suite. Movement 04: Song Tune 'Fairest Isle'
Track 13 on CDS44381/3 CD1 [1'35] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Suite. Movement 05: Hornpipe
Track 14 on CDS44381/3 CD1 [0'42] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Suite. Movement 06: Hornpipe 'Come, shepherds'
Track 15 on CDS44381/3 CD1 [0'49] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Suite. Movement 07: Song Tune 'How blest are shepherds'
Track 16 on CDS44381/3 CD1 [1'27] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Suite. Movement 08: Air
Track 17 on CDS44381/3 CD1 [1'36] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Suite. Movement 09: Song Tune 'Round thy coasts'
Track 18 on CDS44381/3 CD1 [1'12] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Suite. Movement 10: Song Tune 'Come if you dare'
Track 19 on CDS44381/3 CD1 [1'12] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Suite. Movement 11: Trumpet Tune
Track 20 on CDS44381/3 CD1 [0'44] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Suite. Movement 12: Trumpet Tune
Track 21 on CDS44381/3 CD1 [1'05] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Suite. Movement 13: Chaconne
Track 22 on CDS44381/3 CD1 [3'17] 3CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

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