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date: 10 December 2019

Albion and Albaniuslocked

  • Curtis Price

Extract

Opera in three acts by Luis Grabu to a libretto by John Dryden ; London, Dorset Garden Theatre, early June 1685.

In 1680–81 the reign of Charles II was gravely threatened by the Exclusion Crisis, an attempt by certain members of Parliament to block the succession of his brother, James, Duke of York, a Roman Catholic. With the defeat of the Exclusionists and the foiling of plots to assassinate him, Charles II requested ‘something at least like an Opera’ to celebrate his deliverance and the continuation of the Stuart line. The actor-manager Thomas Betterton was despatched to Paris in 1683 with instructions ‘to carry over the Opera’, that is, Jean-Baptiste Lully and members of the Académie Royale de Musique. When this proved impracticable, Betterton returned with Luis Grabu, former Master of the King’s Music, who had been living in exile in Paris since 1679.

Apparently misunderstanding the king’s request, John Dryden, the poet laureate, wrote a play in blank verse, ‘adorn’d with Scenes, Machines, Songs and Dances’, that is, ...

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