Sunday, June 26, 2016

PROGRAM SCHEDULE  •  SUN 19  •  MON 20  •  WED 22  •  FRI 24  •  SUN 26

St. Mark Presbyterian Church, 4 p.m.

Festival Finale: Purcell’s King Arthur

Corey Carleton, soprano
Jennifer Ellis Kampani, soprano
Janelle DeStefano, mezzo-soprano
Dylan Hostetter, countertenor
Jon Lee Keenan, tenor
Brandon Lloyd, tenor
Michael Bannett, bass-baritone
Brett McDermid, bass

Festival Orchestra
Elizabeth Blumenstock, leader

Roles, in Order of Appearance:

First Saxon Priest — Brett McDermid
Second Saxon Priest — Jon Lee Keenan
Third Saxon Priest — Dylan Hostetter
First Priest’s Servant — Jennifer Ellis Kampani
Philidel — Corey Carleton
Grimbald — Michael Bannett
A Shepherd — Brandon Lloyd
Two Shepherdesses — Corey Carleton, Janelle de Stefano
Cupid — Jennifer Ellis Kampani
Cold Genius — Brett McDermid
Two Syrens — Jennifer Ellis Kampani, Corey Carleton
Aeolus — Michael Bannett
Nereid — Corey Carleton
Pan — Brett McDermid
Comus — Jon Lee Keenan
Venus — Corey Carleton
Honour — Jennifer Ellis Kampani

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
King Arthur, or The British Worthy, Z. 628
Libretto by John Dryden (1631-1700)


King Arthur has secured all of his country, except Kent in the course of Battles with the Saxon Foes. The Saxons are led by Oswald, who has set out to win Arthur’s kingdom and his love, the blind Emmeline. A scene of Heathen worship, the three Saxon Gods, WODEN, THOR, and FREYA, placed on Pedestals. In the front are ranged Six Saxon Soldiers, voluntary victims to these Deities.

Woden, first to thee,
A Milk-white Steed in Battle won,
We have Sacrific’d.

We have Sacrific’d.

Let our next oblation be,
To Thor, thy thund’ring Son
Of such another;

We have Sacrific’d.

A Third (of Friezland breed was he,)
To Woden’s Wife, and to Thor’s Mother,
And now we have aton’d all three.

We have Sacrific’d.

The white Horse neigh’d aloud:

To Woden thanks we render.
To Woden we have vow’d.

Thanks to Woden, our Defender.

The rest of the Scene is addressed to the Victims, who, at its conclusion, are led off to be sacrificed.

The lot is cast, and Tanfan pleas’d;
Of mortal cares ye shall be eas’d.

Brave Souls, to be renown’d in Story,
Honour prizing,
Death despising,
Fame acquiring
By expiring,
Die, and reap the Fruit of Glory.
Brave Souls, to be renown’d in Story.

I call ye all
To Woden’s Hall;
Your Temples round
With Ivy bound
In Goblets crown’d,
And plenteous Bowls of burnish’d Gold;
Where you shall Laugh,
And dance and quaff,
The Juice, that makes the Britons bold.

The Six Saxons are led off to be sacrificed.

To Woden’s Hall, etc.

A Battle is supposed to be given behind the Scenes, with Trumpets, and military shouts and excursions.


After the foregoing Symphony, the Britons, expressing their joy for the Victory, sing this song of Triumph.

Come if you dare, our Trumpets sound;
Come if you dare, the Foes rebound,
We come, we come, we come, we come,
Says the double, double, double Beat of the Thund’ring Drum.
Now they charge on amain,
Now they rally again:
The Gods from above the mad Labour behold,
And pity Mankind that will perish for Gold.
The fainting Saxons quit their ground,
Their Trumpets languish in their sound;
They fly, they fly, they fly, they fly;
Victoria, Victoria, the Bold Britons cry.
Now the Victory’s won,
To the Plunder we run;
We return to our Lasses like Fortunate Traders,
Triumphant with Spoils of the Vanquish’d Invaders.


Philidel, a repentant spirit, is commanded by Merlin to guard the Britons.

INTRODUCTION (play’d by Musicians)

AIR (play'd while Merlin descends in a Chariot drawn by Dragons)

Philidel informs Merlin that Grimbald will attempt to mislead the Briton army to cliffs, where they will fall to their Deaths, by telling them they are pursuing the retreating Saxons.

Hither, this way, this way bend,
Trust not that Malicious Fiend:
Those are false deluding Lights,
Wafted far and near by Sprights.
Trust ’em not, for they’ll deceive ye;
And in Bogs and Marshes leave ye.

Hither this way, this way bend.

This way, this way bend.

If you step, no Danger thinking,
Down you fall, a Furlong sinking:
‘Tis a Fiend who has annoy’d ye,
Name but heav’n, and he’ll avoid ye.

Hither this way, this way bend.

This way, this way bend.

Trust not that Malicious Fiend;
Hither, this way, etc.

The Britons are persuaded by Philidel to turn about, but Grimbald conjures fresh Footprints as proof they should continue.

Let not a moon-born Elf mislead ye,
From your Prey, and from your Glory.
Too far, alas, he has betray’d ye:
Follow the Flames that wave before ye:
Sometimes Seven, and sometimes One,
Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry on.
See, see, the Footsteps plain appearing,
That way Oswald chose for flying:
Firm is the Turf, and fit for bearing,
Where yonder Pearly Dews are lying.
Far he cannot hence be gone;
Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry on.

The Britons turn to follow the Course to the Cliffs

Hither this way, etc.

The Britons incline to Philidel. Grimbald curses Philidel and sinks with a Flash.

Come follow me.
And me, and me, and me, and me.
And Greensward all your way shall be,
Come follow me.
No Goblin or Elf shall dare to offend ye.
We Brethren of Air,
You Heroes, will bear,
To the Kind and the Fair that attend ye.

Philidel and the Spirits go off Singing, with King Arthur and the rest in the middle of them. Enter the blind Emmeline led by her servant Matilda.

Enter Shepherds and Shepherdesses.

How blest are shepherds, how happy their Lasses,
While Drums and Trumpets are sounding Alarms!
Over our Lowly Shed, all the Storm passes;
And when we die, ‘tis in each others Arms.
All the Day on our Herds and Flocks employing;
All the Night on our Flutes, and in enjoying.
Bright Nymphs of Britain, with Graces attended,
Let not your Days without Pleasure expire;
Honour’s but empty, and when Youth is ended,
All Men will praise you, but none will desire.
Let not Youth fly away without Contenting;
Age will come time enough for your Repenting.

Here the Men offer their Flutes to the Women, which they refuse.

Shepherd, Shepherd, leave Decoying,
Pipes are sweet on Summer’s Day;
But a little after toying,
Women have the shot to pay.
Here are Marriage Vows for signing,
Set their Marks that cannot write:
After that, without Repining,
Play and Welcome, Day and Night.

Here the Women give the Men Contracts, which they accept.

Come, Shepherds, lead up a lively Measure;
The Cares of Wedlock, are Cares of Pleasure:
But whether Marriage bring Joy or Sorrow,
Make sure of this Day, and hang tomorrow.


Exeunt Shepherds and Shepherdesses.

Emmeline and Matilda are captured by Oswald, who refuses the offers made by Arthur during a Parley. The Britons prepare to rescue Emmeline from the Saxons.



Though the Britons are terrified by the magic horrors that surround the Saxon fort, Arthur is ready to go on alone. Merlin advises him to wait until the spells are broken, but finally agrees to lead him to find Emmeline and restore her sight.


A Deep Wood. Philidel, trying to find Emmeline, is caught by Grimbald, but escapes and casts a strong spell over the evil Spirit. Merlin enters, gives a Vial to Philidel, and exits. Enter Emmeline and Matilda at the far end of the Wood. Philidel sprinkles Water from the Vial over Emmeline’s eyes. Emmeline, having recovered her sight and seen Arthur for the first time, tells hims that not only Oswald, but also Osmond, a powerful Saxon Magician, is wooing her. Philidel, Arthur, and Merlin exit.

Osmond, now seen by Emmeline for the first time, pleads ardently for her Favor, boasting how he has cast Oswald into prison. Emmeline is frozen with Terror; Osmond swears his Love will thaw her. He strikes the Ground with his Wand: the Scene changes to a Prospect of Winter in Frozen Countries.

Cupid Descends.

What oh, thou Genius of the Clime, what oh!
Ly’st thou asleep beneath those Hills of Snow?
Stretch out thy Lazy Limbs; awake, awake,
And Winter from thy Furry Mantle shake.

The Cold Genius Arises.

What Power art thou, who from below,
Hast made me Rise, unwillingly and slow,
From Beds of Everlasting Snow!
See’st thou not how stiff, and wondrous Old,
Far unfit to bear the bitter Cold,
I can scarcely move, or draw my Breath;
Let me, let me, freeze again to Death.

Thou doating Fool, forbear, forbear;
What dost thou mean by Freezing here?
At Love’s appearing, all the Skie clearing.
The Stormy Winds their Fury spare:
Winter subduing and Spring renewing,
My Beams create a more Glorious Year.
Thou doating Fool, forbear, forbear;
What dost thou mean by Freezing here?

Great Love, I know thee now;
Eldest of the Gods art Thou:
Heav’n and Earth, by Thee were made.
Human Nature is Thy Creature,
Everywhere Thou art obey’d.

No part of my Dominion shall be waste,
To spread my Sway, and Sing my Praise,
Ev’n here I will a People raise,
Of kind embracing Lovers, and embraced.

Cupid waves his Wand upon which the Scene opens, and discovers a Prospect of Ice and Snow to the end of the Stage. Singers and Dancers, Men and Women, appear.

See, see, see, we assemble
Thy Revels to hold,
Tho’ quiv’ring with Cold
We chatter, chatter, chatter,
And tremble,
See, see, see, we assemble
Thy Revels to hold.

‘Tis I, ‘tis I, ‘tis I that have warm’d ye;
In spight of cold weather,
I’ve brought ye together:
‘Tis I, ‘tis I, ‘tis I that have warm’d ye.

‘Tis Love, ‘tis Love, ‘tis Love that has warm’d us;
In spight of Cold Weather, He brought us together:
‘Tis Love, ‘tis Love, ‘tis Love that has warm’d us.

Sound a Parley, ye Fair, and surrender;
Set your Selves, and your Lovers at ease;
He’s a Grateful Offender Who Pleasure dare seize:
But the Whining pretender Is sure to displease.
Since the Fruit of Desire is possessing,
‘Tis Unmanly to Sigh and Complain,
When we Kneel for Redressing. We move your Disdain:
Love was made for a Blessing, And not for a Pain.


The Singers and Dancers depart.

Emmeline is saved from the advances of Osmond by a cry from the ensnared Grimbald, which compels Osmond to come to his aid.


Osmond, learning that his spells have been broken by Merlin, plans to trap Arthur with Visions of Beauty. Arthur, having been warned by Merlin that all he sees is Illusion, is left in the Wood, watched over by Philidel, who can, with Merlin’s wand, expose the evil Spirits. As Arthur is going to a Bridge, two Syrens arise from the Water. They shew themselves to the Waist, and Sing.

Two Daughters of this Aged Stream are we;
And both our Sea-green Locks have comb’d for Thee;
Come Bathe with us an Hour or two, Come Naked in, for we are so;
What Danger from a Naked Foe?
Come Bathe with us, come Bathe, and share
What Pleasures in the Floods appear;
We’ll beat the Waters till they bound,
And Circle round, around, around, And Circle round, around.

Arthur is enchanted, but succeeds in tearing himself away. As he is going forward, Nymphs and Sylvans come out from behind the Trees, and sing the following Song.

PASSACAGLIA play’d by Musicians

How happy the Lover,
How easie his Chain,
How sweet to discover
He sighs not in vain.
For Love every Creature
Is form’d by his Nature;
No Joys are above
The Pleasures of Love.

In vain are our Graces,
In vain are your eyes,
In vain are our Graces
If Love you despise;
When Age furrows Faces,
‘Tis time to be wise.
Then use the sweet Blessing,
While now it possessing:
No Joys are above
The Pleasures of Love.

King Arthur wills himself to resist the Syrens, strikes the finest Tree in the Wood, and the Dancers, Singers, and Syrens vanish. From the Tree appears Emmeline, her arm bleeding from the blow. She has almost persuaded him to put down his sword and take her by the hand, when Philidel runs on, touches her with Merlin’s wand, and discloses her to be Grimbald disguised. Arthur then strikes the tree again, the spells are broken, and the pass to the Saxon castle revealed. Philidel binds Grimbald and takes him a prisoner.


Osmond, finding his spells broken and his Spirit Grimbald captured, determines to release Oswald from the prison in the last hope that together they may defeat Arthur. Marching to the Saxon castle, the Britons are met by Oswald, who proposes to decide the war by single Combat with Arthur. Assisted by their Enchanters, the two kings do battle, Arthur finally disarming Oswald. Arthur orders Oswald to take his men back to Saxony. Emmeline is restored to her lover, Osmond is cast into prison by Merlin. Merlin waves his wand; the scene changes, and reveals the British Ocean in a Storm, Aeolus in a Cloud above, and the Four Winds nearby.

Ye Blust’ring Brethren of the Skies,
Whose Breath has ruffl’d all the Wat’ry Plain, Retire, and let
Britannia Rise In Triumph o’er the Main.
Serene and Calm, and void of fear,
The Queen of Islands must appear.

Aeolus descends, and the Winds fly off. The Scene opens, and discovers a calm Sea, to the end of the House. An Island arises, to a soft Tune; Britannia seated in the Island, with Fishermen at her Feet, etc.


The Tune changes, the Fishermen come ashore, and dance a while, after which, Pan and a Nereid come on the Stage, and sing.


Round thy coasts, fair Nymphs of Britain
For thy guard our Waters flow:
Proteus all his Herd admitting,
On thy Greens to Graze below.
Foreign Lands thy Fishes Tasting;
Learn from thee Luxurious Feasting.

For folded Flocks, or Fruitful Plains,
The Shepherds and the Farmers’ Gains,
Fair Britain all the World outvies;
And Pan, as in Arcadia Reigns,
Where Pleasure mix’d with Profit lies.
Tho’ Jason’s Fleece was fam’d of old,
The British wool is growing Gold;
No, no, no Mines can more of Wealth supply,
It keeps the Peasants from the Cold,
And takes for Kings the Tyrian dye.

Enter Comus with Peasants.

Your Hay it is Mow’d and your Corn is Reap’d;
Your Barns will be full, and your Hovels heap’d:
Come, Boys, come, come, Boys, come,
And merrily Roar out our Harvest Home.
Harvest Home, Harvest Home,
And merrily Roar out our Harvest Home.
We’ve cheated the Parson, we’ll cheat him agen,
For why should a Blockhead have One in Ten?
One in Ten, One in Ten,
For why should a Blockhead have One in Ten?
One in Ten, One in Ten,
For why should a Blockhead have One in Ten?
For Prating so long like a Book-learn’d Sot,
Till Pudding and Dumplin are burnt to Pot;
Burn to Pot, Burn to Pot,
Till Pudding and Dumplin are burnt to Pot.
Burnt to Pot, burnt to Pot,
Till Pudding and Dumplin are burnt to pot.
We’ll toss off our Ale till we cannot stand,
And Heigh for the Honour of Old England,
Old England, Old England,
And Heigh for the Honour of Old England,
Old England, Old England,
And Heigh for the Honour of Old England.

Fairest Isle, all Isles Excelling,
Seat of Pleasures, and of Loves;
Venus, here, will choose her Dwelling,
And forsake her Cyprian Groves.
Cupid, from her Fav’rite Nation,
Care and Envy will remove
Jealousie, that poysons Passion,
And Despair that dies for Love.
Gentle Murmurs, sweet Complaining,
Sighs that blow the Fire of Love;
Soft Repulses, kind Disdaining,
Shall be all the Pains you prove.
Ev’ry Swain shall pay his Duty,
Grateful ev’ry Nymph shall prove;
And as these excel in Beauty,
Those shall be renown’d in Love.

A Warlike Consort: The Scene opens and discovers the Order of the Garter. Enter Honour, attended by Heroes.


St. George, the Patron of our Isle,
A Soldier and a Saint,
On that Auspicious Order smile,
Which Love and Arms will plant.

Our Natives not alone appear
To court this Martial Prize;
But Foreign Kings Adopted here,
Their Crowns at home despise.
Our Sov’reign High, in Aweful State,
His Honours shall bestow;
And see his Scepter’d Subjects wait
On his Commands below.


Reception on the Patio

This concert is dedicated to the memory of
Arthur “Brian” Taylor


What is Purcell’s King Arthur? Sort of an opera, a kind of masque, a dramatic play with singers and instrumentalists — these messy definitions are all right, though they don’t quite cover the whole picture. A term many people use is “semi-opera,” but I can’t say I love it. The prefix “semi,” meaning “half,” conjures up uneasy suggestions of “not quite” or “half-baked,” or even “incomplete,” which are not good descriptors of King Arthur.

One of the two names I like best comes from the period and the country in which such works were written, roughly 1672–1712 in England: “dramatick opera.” (This was Dryden’s own description, used on the libretto’s title page.) The second term, used most often by scholars, is “Restoration spectacular.” With outrageous stage machinery, lavish costumes and stage designs, fireworks, trap doors and the like, these shows were, if you will, the Cirque du Soleil shows of the day, stunning and delighting their audiences.

There is indeed a quite substantial dramatic element in King Arthur. The actual play with spoken roles (which you will not hear today) is accompanied by an even more substantial amount of singing and playing (which you will!). Given that our performance of just the musical parts of King Arthur lasts almost two hours, it’s likely that the complete version with spoken roles would last over three. I have condensed the spoken parts of the piece into brief descriptions of the action, which are included in your programs in italics.

In truth, though, neither my digest version nor a full performance of the spoken roles is likely to give you a crystal-clear picture of the story. The story is in fact only barely a story at all, let alone a plot. It is more an evocation of some of the quite fantastical (non-Camelot) bits of Arthurian legend, in which Arthur and the Britons drive the invading Saxons from England. This material would have been familiar to all English listeners, a familiarity we cannot entirely share here in California 325 years later. And after the beginning of Act V, the story morphs entirely away from the King Arthur legend and becomes a much more concrete celebration of all things British, from the Island herself to her products and economy, her fish, her wool, her crops and her loving lovers.

To make some sense out of all this strangeness, it helps to know that glorified masques such as this were almost always composed with flattery of the current King in mind. In the case of King Arthur, by inference, the King would be compared with Arthur (and not come up short), and credit for the booming British economy would implicitly be laid at his feet. In fact, Dryden originally wrote the libretto to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Charles II’s restoration to the throne.

However, Charles died before the project reached fruition, and Dryden shelved the libretto for several years. He was talked into revising it by Thomas Betterton, a theater manager who had just tasted success with Dioclesian (music by Henry Purcell), and suspected he could do even better with a collaboration between the famous old poet and the brilliant young composer. Dryden apparently grumbled, albeit gently, about the changes he was asked to make to his lines and verses, but, being a great admirer of Purcell’s music, and clearly having a good grip on everyday philosophy, he yielded, remarking, “The Numbers of Poetry and Vocal Musick, are sometimes so contrary, that in many places I have been oblig’d to cramp my Verses, and make them rugged to the Reader, that they may be harmonious to the Hearer: Of which I have no Reason to repent me, because these sorts of Entertainments are principally design’d for the Ear and the Eye; and therefore in Reason my Art on this occasion, ought to be subservient to his.”

The first performance likely took place in May 1691; the production was extremely successful and engendered frequent revivals. Some amusing facts about the original cast have survived. Theater manager Betterton could not resist taking the role of Arthur for himself, though he was in his fifties (in all fairness, he was also the best actor of his day). Roger North, music commentator extraordinaire, described the singing of the famously beautiful dark-eyed soprano Charlotte Butler in the role of Cupid as “beyond anything I ever heard upon the stage,” crediting her success in part to “the liberty she had of concealing her face , which she could not endure should be so contorted as is necessary to sound well, before her gallants, or at least her envious sex.”

Notes by Elizabeth Blumenstock


There are several words and phrases in the libretto which are so odd or far out of use that it might be informative to make a brief glossary of them, herewith:

Act 1
“the Juice that makes the Britons bold” — No one knows! Beer?

Act 2
“furlong” — About 660 feet
“And when we die, ‘tis in each others Arms” — The other death...
“All the Night on our Flutes” — The other flutes...

Act 3
“doating” — In one’s dotage, old and weak

Act 5
“hovel” — A farmer’s shed
“the Order of the Garter” — Founded in 1348, this is the highest order of chivalry, and inferior in prestige only to the Victoria Cross and the George Cross


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