The Massacre at Paris
The Massacre at Paris is the title of an Elizabethan play by the English dramatist Christopher Marlowe (1593) and a Restoration drama by Nathaniel Lee (1689), the later chiefly remembered for a song by Henry Purcell. Both concern the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre, which took place in Paris in 1572, and the part played by the Duc de Guise in those events.
The Lord Strange's Men acted a play titled The Tragedy of the Guise, thought to be Marlowe's play, on 26 January 1593. The Admiral's Men performed The Guise or The Massacre ten times between 21 June and 27 September 1594. The Diary of Philip Henslowe marks the play as "ne," though scholars disagree as to whether this indicates a "new" play or a performance at the Newington Butts theatre. The Diary also indicates that Henslowe planned a revival of the play in 1602, possibly in a revised version. A possible revision may have something to do with the surprising number of Shakespearean borrowings and paraphrases in the text.
The only surviving text is an undated quarto that is too short to represent the complete original play and in all probability it is a memorial reconstruction by the actors who performed the work. It preserves a lot of the violence and stabbing jokes but deletes most of whatever social value the play may have had, except for one long soliloquy near the beginning.
One clue to the original substance of the play is a page which survives in manuscript. It is known as the "Collier leaf," after the Shakespearean scholar John Payne Collier, who is known to have been a notorious forger, although modern scholars think that this particular leaf is probably authentic. Despite including a speech where one of the characters mutters obscene jokes to himself before shooting someone, it supplies a much longer and more interesting version of a blank verse speech than appears in the quarto. This suggests that the more thoughtful parts of the play were precisely the ones that tended to be cut.
Henry Purcell set to omen to Charles IX[disambiguation needed] from act V, "Thy genius, lo", in two versions, the one for baritone (Z 604a) appearing in Orpheus Britannicus. For a revival in 1695 he recast the speech as a recitative for treble.
- Chambers, Vol. 1, p. 323; Vol. 3, pp. 425-6.
- Halliday, p. 307.
- Probes, Christine McCall (2008). "Senses, signs, symbols and theological allusion in Marlowe's The Massacre at Paris". In Deats, Sara Munson; Logan, Robert A. Placing the plays of Christopher Marlowe: Fresh Cultural Contexts. Aldershot, England: Ashgate. p. 149. ISBN 0-7546-6204-7.
- Curtis Price, Henry Purcell and the London stage (Cambridge University Press 1984)
- Book I, p. 135
- Price, p. 21
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- Chambers, E. K. The Elizabethan Stage. 4 Volumes, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1923.
- Halliday, F. E. A Shakespeare Companion 1564–1964. Baltimore, Penguin, 1964.