Toronto Masque Theatre Presents:
The Fairy Queen
by Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
Come, let us leave the Town
And in some lonely place,
Where Crowds and Noise were never known,
Resolve to spend our days.
27-29 May 2016, 8:00 pm
Special pre-show chat at 7:15 each night
The Arts & Letters Club, 14 Elm Street, Toronto
Steps from the Dundas St. subway station
TORONTO - The Great Hall of the Arts & Letters Club is the magnificent location for Toronto Masque Theatre’s new interpretation of Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen. A popular entertainment in its day, this 17th-century masterpiece is re-imagined by director and choreographer Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière who casts the themes of the work into a contemporary setting, creating a new scenario that follows the fate of a number of lost souls in search of love, happiness and meaning. Lacoursière uses the precision of baroque dance to explore the passion that informs and drives Purcell’s stunning music.
|The Fairy Queen by Edward Landseer|
Based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Purcell wrote the music for The Fairy Queen in 1692. Although we don’t know for sure who the librettist is, it has often been speculated that it was the actor and impresario, Thomas Betterton.
|Soprano Juliet Beckwith|
- If love’s a sweet passion;
- Hark, the echoing air;
- Ye gentle spirits of the air,
- Now the night is chas’d away; and
- One charming night.
- Come, let us leave the town;
- the dialogue of Corydon and Mopsa; and
- the brilliant final trio.
After this discovery, the score was included in the Purcell Society’s editions of his complete works and, throughout the 20thcentury, it emerged as one of Purcell’s most beloved pieces. With the advent of the early music revival in the 1960s and 70s the quality of the products improved immensely and there have been many fine recordings of The Fairy Queen by leading early music companies.
Any production of The Fairy Queen has to grapple with what to do with the spoken text. Despite coming almost a century after the original, the text featured in The Fairy Queen is somewhat more convoluted and antiquated-sounding than Shakespeare’s original. In addition, a full production, using all the spoken text, would last as long as six hours.
With this production, Artistic Director Larry Beckwith and Artistic Associate Marie-Nathalie Lacoursière have decided to focus on the music and the splendid dances that they believe form the emotional heart of the work.
Here's a taste of the music: