London: Printed by J. Heptinstall, for the Author ... to be sold by John Carr, 1691.
Tall folio. Attractively bound in modern half-calf with marbled boards and decorative blindstamping, raised bands on spine in gilt-ruled compartments, dark red leather title label gilt. 1f. (recto title, verso blank), [ii] (dedication "to His Grace Charles Cuke of Somerset"), 173, [i] (blank), [i] (Advertisement), [i] (catalogue "Musick Books sold by John Carr") pp. Typeset throughout.
With the signature of the English musician William Hawes (1785-1846) in ink to title and with early annotations and corrections, most probably by Hawes, to pages 1-5 and occasionally throughout.
Slightly worn and browned; occasional light foxing; first and last leaves, including title, somewhat worn, browned, frayed, and stained; several small wormholes to last ten leaves; page 12 cropped at lower margin, just touching notating but not seriously affecting legibility; some mispagination.
First Edition. Zimmerman 627. Day & Murray 111. BUC p. 861. Hirsch II, 754. RISM P5927.
First performed at The Queen's Theatre, Dorset Garden London, in June 1690. "As far as the costumes, scenery and machines were concerned, no expense was spared; and the Dance of Chairs in Act III and the spectacular masque in Act V proved special favourites with the public." Eric Walter White: Purcell-Handel Festival London June 1959, pp. 9-10.
One of the few works by Purcell published during the composer's lifetime and certainly the most extensive. Purcell composed incidental music and songs for a great many plays during his career; The Prophetess, by Thomas Betterton after Fletcher and Massinger, was one of five cases in which his contribution was on a scale large enough for the work to be considered a "semi-opera." The present copy may have been used for a planned edition or a revival of the work by Hawes, a conductor and for many years the director of the English Opera House, who was also a music publisher.
"In 'Dioclesian', particularly, everything is under the spell of music and gains significance from it. Not only is this work a great deal better than Fletcher's play 'The Prophetess' on which it is based, but all its superiorities are owing to the musical additions which make of it an impressively beautiful work of stately elegance." Robert Etheridge Moore: Henry Purcell & the Restoration Theatre, p. 130.
As no autograph is known, this published score is the primary source for the work.
Price: $5,000.00 other currencies