Published Mar 18, 2011Last year, graphic novelist Alan Moore revealed that he was writing the libretto for an opera about Elizabethan alchemist/magician John Dee, with music penned by Gorillaz/Blur mastermind Damon Albarn. Moore eventually dropped out of the project, but that didn't stop Albarn from ploughing ahead. The finished product, Doctor Dee, will debut at the Manchester International Festival, which runs from June 30 to July 17.
In addition to penning the music, Albarn will appear in the production. The MIF website offers this description of the show:
In the age before science and magic parted company, Doctor John Dee was the ultimate Renaissance Man: astrologer, alchemist, mathematician and spy, he coined the term 'British Empire' and equipped the Elizabethan Court with the knowledge to make it manifest. The inspiration for both Marlowe's Faust and Shakespeare's Prospero, Dee studied the Heavens, he spoke with Archangels, and he paid a bitter personal price.
Doctor Dee explores ritual and symbolism in this country, past and present, using John Dee -- one of England's greatest, but largely forgotten men -- as catalyst.
This isn't the first time that Albarn has ventured into musical theatre. The Britpop veteran also wrote the score for Monkey: Journey to the West, with visuals designed by Gorillaz collaborator Jamie Hewlett. That production appeared at the 2007 instalment of the Manchester International Festival.
MIF says that Doctor Dee was co-commissioned by the London 2012 Festival, meaning that it will likely be staged at the city's Cultural Olympiad next year.