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Noon Edition

Purcell: The Tempest "Dry those eyes"

Until the early 1960s it was generally accepted that the music for this adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest was by the great English composer Henry Purcell. Now, it looks far more likely that most of it was actually composed by Purcell’s student, the lesser-known John Weldon. Purcell’s contemporaries would not have thought of The Tempest as an opera, but rather as semi-opera, a term for a set of interludes or “masques,” composed to augment a spoken play. In this case, the play was a modernized seventeenth-century performance of the Bard’s last work. In this aria, Ariel, a wind-sprite comforts and welcome shipwrecked survivors to a mysterious island, where strange things are about to take place…

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