Wine expert Oz joins Armonico Consort - The Rugby Observer

Wine expert Oz joins Armonico Consort

Rugby Editorial 19th Jun, 2024 Updated: 19th Jun, 2024   0

ARMONICO Consort will be joined by wine expert Oz Clarke for a new adaptation of Henry Purcell’s semi-opera The Fairy Queen at Leamington’s Pump Rooms on June 27.

Clarke, himself a former professional actor and choral singer, who will narrate a specially-adapted script of the work alongside actress and singer Laura Moretto and the singers and period instrumentalists of the Warwick-based consort.

First performed in 1692, The Fairy Queen brings together a spoken dialogue based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with a series of individual musical scenes through which Purcell enchants with a world of dreams and darkness, love and laughter.

Originally, this made for an event of more than six hours, a great deal of which, while entertaining, was also very confusing. Armonico aim to bring the work to life in a semi-staged concert format alongside a narration which will aim to make sense of Purcell’s music.

From Scenes of the Drunken Poet and a Dance for the Green Men to a poignant lament for lost love, there’s humour, dance, theatrical effects and some of Purcell’s most colourful instrumental and vocal writing.

The original score was lost after Purcell’s death in 1695 and rediscovered only in the early 20th century, and recent revivals have generally excluded the spoken narrative.

Christopher Monks, artistic director of Armonico Consort said: “For centuries, what are amongst Purcell’s greatest and most memorable works have left audiences simply baffled by the confused and jumbled story linking them together.

“For the first time ever, and taking a teaspoon of artistic licence, we give his Fairy Queen our hugely successful ‘Dido and Aeneas’ treatment, which has been seen by audiences from England to Italy. Of course, all of this with a little bit of help and inspiration from Mr William Shakespeare…”

Before wine took over his life in 1984, Clarke was a full-time actor and singer. He appeared on the West End stage as Sweeney Todd and General Peron in Evita, played one of the first criminals to be apprehended by Superman in the 1978 film, and toured with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

His singing career began as a choirboy at Canterbury, continuing with the Schola Cantorum (Oxford University’s premier chamber choir), and then with the renowned Monteverdi Choir and the Academy of St Martin’s.

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