Talk:The Fairy-Queen

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Good article The Fairy-Queen has been listed as one of the Music good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
February 8, 2006 Good article nominee Not listed
August 6, 2006 Good article nominee Listed
July 27, 2009 Good article reassessment Kept
Current status: Good article
WikiProject Opera (Rated GA-class)
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Good article nomination[edit]

I'd recommend developing the synopsis which is currently very short (see Grove which has a much longer one), while adding performance and recording histories and a bibliography. Hope this is helpful. - Kleinzach 17:34, 5 July 2006 (UTC)

As Moreschi noted elsewhere, it does not make sense to have a long synopsis in this case, since it's a very literal rendition of A midsummer night's dream and people can go to that article for a synopsis of the play. (this is mostly for GA reviewers' benefit). Mak (talk) 17:00, 12 July 2006 (UTC)
Bibliography done. Moreschi 21:48, 12 July 2006 (UTC)

Good Article nomination has failed/Work back up the hill[edit]

The Good article nomination for The Fairy-Queen has failed, for the following reason(s):

  • I think this article needs inline citations (such as footnotes) for many of its statements. There are references listed, but one has no idea which one applies to which statement, so verifiability is an issue. Example statements would be, "A possible author of the libretto is Thomas Betterton, with whom Purcell worked on Dioclesian." and "The Fairy-Queen contains some of Purcell's finest music, as musicologists have agreed for generations."
  • Expand the information on the Shakespeare's text being modernized and the development of the libretto.. these deserve sections and thorough explanations.
  • Expand information on performances and history.
  • Expand information on the masques and how they work into the storyline. This was an interesting topic for me, a first-time reader of an article about opera. I was curious what all the masques are and when they occur in the opera. You cover that somewhat in the Context and Analysis section, but you rush through the explanation. Since the opera is an adaptation and therefore doesn't have a thorough synopsis, it needs good coverage of how the adaptation was written and implemented.

Keep up the good work and I will look for this to be nominated again!

Aguerriero (talk) 15:01, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

O.K, there are some valid points in there, and all the criticism is constructively meant, which is more than happens with some GA reviewers. So thank you, even if I am obviously disappointed that the article didn't pass.
  • Point 1 about references - fair enough. I'll see what I can do.
  • Points 3 and 4 - also fair enough. Ditto.
  • Point 2 - here, I'm afraid, I have to take exception. I don't think there's anything much to say on the development of the libretto. We don't even know the librettist's name, and essentially what he did was to horribly vandalize Shakespeare's divine play and write some mediocre masques, rescued by Purcell's divine music. I'll put some more info in as regards exactly how lowly Shakespeare was regarded at this time, but this wasn't cultural evolution. This was cultural barbarity. I would have mentioned some of this, but was worried about POV.
Anyway, thank for the comments. Best, Moreschi 18:13, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
Terrific, and thanks for the response. The article is good - good enough that it got me interested in it even though I don't follow opera. I wanted to read more, hence the requests for expansion. As for point 2 above, noted. That is actually very interesting and I would love to see it in the article - don't think it would be POV if you have a citation. If the libretto is universally considered garbage by opera scholars, that's definitely worth writing about. Good luck and I will look for this nom again. --Aguerriero (talk) 18:54, 13 July 2006 (UTC)
O.k, point 2 has been partially adressed, at least. It now explains just why the play had to be messed around with. Cheers, Moreschi 21:59, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
There's now a section on the work's performance history; so that's point 3 partially covered, but I can't do much about the recordings. Moreschi 14:20, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
I've made it a bit clearer as to why the masques go where they do; I'm not sure that it's entirely adequate, but there isn't too much to say. Purcell didn't really go in for psychological depths; the music usually stands alone. Moreschi 16:18, 23 July 2006 (UTC)
By the way, I have been watching your progress and I think the article is ready for GA nomination again. Please consider re-nominating when you are ready. --Aguerriero (talk) 21:06, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

Hm, spelling. Grove has Coridon, as does my recording of it. Is this a period spelling issue? Perhaps someone with access to EEBO could check the original libretto? I personally think we should stick to the spelling Purcell used, but I could be swayed. Mak (talk) 21:04, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

Aguerrierio, thanks very much. Makemi's just put in a whole load of references and all the other points have at least been partially addressed, so yes, back on the list we go.
Now, re this spelling business. My Deller Consort recording gives Corydon, and my 1920s copy of the score gives Coridon. I wouldn't put too much stock by that, though, it's been horribly mucked around with - all the countertenor stuff transposed for tenor, etc. I figured there wasn't much to pick between the two, so I went for the one which I thought looked nicer. What do you think? Moreschi 21:15, 25 July 2006 (UTC)
Eh, looks like Corydon may be more prevalent. I say leave it as that until more information comes down the Series of tubes. Mak (talk) 21:22, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

Re the Second Chinese Woman: She sings in the call to summon Hymen ("Sure the dull the god") (it's a pity about that rule; I think that my elegant italics looked a lot better. Was that in the Manual of Style?), and also in the duet that persuades him to give his blessing to all the pairs of lovers at the end ("Turn, turn then thine eyes"). As far as I can see, she does exist! Cheers, Moreschi 07:56, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

RE: Mopsa - there were two versions. The first one was for a soprano female Mopsa, and in a later version Purcell re-worked it, I think in another key, for countertenor. It makes more sense to me, therefore, to have soprano and countertenor as the possibilities for Mopsa. Now, for the second Chinese woman, I only have a recording and no score, so I'm sorry if I was wrong on that. I didn't see her listed on any lists of singers. According to the libretto at, and the other lists I've seen, these are sung by the first and second women, as distinct from the Chinese woman. I agree with you that italics look prettier, and especially make it easier to read, but having songs and arias in quotations is actually fairly standard practice, as well as it being in the manual of style. I know, it sucks.
Hmm. Maybe we should start the anti-arias-in-quotation-marks WikiProject. It really doesn't look good. Thanks for the Mopsa clarification; my sources didn't make this clear. I think this revision business should go into the article, alongside my mention of Mr Pate, the countertenor. It doesn't seem to be entirely clear as to whether the Chinese women sing along with Hymen, or just two other random women. It seems to me that this is yet another thing that depends on the director; does he keep the Chinese woman (blending the Chinese scene into Hymen's masque) on (in which case the other soprano is Chinese by default); or replace her with two other sopranos. One point that should be born in mind is that if both the Oriental man and women go off after the Monkey's dance, the woman has sung maybe thirty seconds of incredibly brief air. Not much of a role! What do you think? Moreschi 18:34, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
I actually did add the revision business to the article, but perhaps it isn't clear enough, or put strongly enough. I don't know about the Chinese women. It wouldn't surprise me at all if such a minor character as the Chinese woman were played by someone who doubled in the chorus or as one of the two women, but I think it's misleading to label the two random-ish women as the first and second Chinese women. Perhaps the Chinese woman doesn't sing that much because it's really more of a dancer's role? In that case, it would be really wrong to call the two women the first and second Chinese women. My best guess, though, is that the two women are just members of the chorus who get to sing a bit of an air, aren't named, and don't really serve an allegorical purpose, and so calling them anything other than "first and second woman" would be misleading. Mak (talk) 18:45, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
Whoops, no, yes, the Mopsa thing is perfectly clear, I just missed it. That's sorted, then.
Now, back to our Chinese women. The airs that precede our Hymen masque (Hark how all things and Hark how the echoing air) are very difficult and require fine breath control, so the soprano for these and other one that comes in for the Hymen masque would be your top singers. Whether one of these would be the same as has just sung the as the Chinese woman (as in my Deller Consort recording) is a "maybe" for directors to puzzle over. In general, probably not, so you're right and we should leave it out. I'll amend the synopsis to delete the references to Hymen's women being Chinese. Cheers, Moreschi 18:57, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
Back to GA, BTW? Moreschi 19:03, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
I say yes. Just wanted to get those two things sorted first. (I'll let you do it :-) Mak (talk) 19:06, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

Oh! One last thing, for the synopsis - I wasn't sure how to reference it. Basically, y'know, it's just a synopsis. I was just trying to indicate that the whole synopsis had been checked against a source, and made sense. It seems dumb to add inline citations for every other sentence of the synopsis, so that was my attempt to cover the whole thing. If you can think of a better way to put it, that would be greatly appreciated. Mak (talk) 19:09, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

I've phrased it as "two further women". The only reason why I jigged the wording around on the note was to make it sound more formal; otherwise you get officious busybodies with an officious template saying: "This section seems not to be written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia... etc". Back to GA then (and the attendant queues and waiting...!). Cheers, Moreschi 19:14, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

This article is good[edit]

After a slight reshuffling and a little tweaking (which of course others are welcome to examine and perhaps rereshuffle and retweak or detweak), I decided that this was a good article. Well done, Moreschi and collaborators! -- Hoary 05:42, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

Performance history/Recording history[edit]

Congratulations on achieving Good Article status.

I have added some recordings. Ideally I would be interested in reading a recording history. When was the first recording? Was it HIP etc.? What other live and studio recordings have been made. What video? What is available on DVD?

Likewise with the performance history I'd really be interested in dates. When was the first modern performance? (The present article only has the date of the original premiere.) When and where have subsequent modern performances taken place? Most of this information is available online, although it may be necessary to dig around for it. - Kleinzach 11:23, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Thanks for all the kind comments. In reply to Kleinzach; (I've been on holiday for three weeks; sorry I couldn't get back sooner)
  • First recording - don't know but I'll have a look. My Deller Consort CD dates back to 1972, but I'll see if I can find anything any earlier than that.
  • Videos, DVDS etc - again, I don't know, but I'll have a look.
  • First modern performance - ditto.
  • Where performed - pretty much everywhere! Britain, America, Europe - I remember reading online archive newspaper reviews. But what about other operatic spheres - has Purcell ever been done in, say, Japan, the Orient. Here you might know more than me. Cheers, Moreschi 19:27, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Regarding videos, the English National Opera has a DVD out. They retain all the music, but the story has been significantly altered and relies heavily on ballet to tell it. The sets are minimal and mostly static, there are only a handful of props, and the costuming is eclectic and difficult to describe.
Essentially, its plot is that both Oberon and Titania love the Indian Boy. Oberon steals him and insults Titania at dinner, dividing the fairies and provoking a feud between the two groups. Titania reclaims the boy (Arthur Pita, who's not so much a boy and not so much clothed) and she, the boy, and her fairies leave.
Cut to the mortal town, which looks exactly like the fairy forest, and a boring business meeting. Two mortal women and three mortal men duck under the table. Enter the Drunken Poet, who stumbles through the audience and falls into the orchestra pit. The fairies come and castigate him. When they leave, they take the table with them and the two couples and odd-man out and discovered by the other business people and driven out of town.
Oberon's lackey Puck comes up with a plan to regain the boy for Oberon that involves a magic flower. The mortals and the poet, who have stumbled into their forest, are ensnared by the endless rope of dirty laundry that Oberon has pulled from his magic washing machine and cry for help. This is the only non-sung bit of dialogue in whole show.
Titania's fairies come with spray cans of bug poison and fly swatters and chase away Oberon's fairies. They then cut the mortals loose with scissors. Titania enters, distributes pillows, and everyone, mortals too, go to sleep. Oberon works his flower magic and the couples awake in love with the wrong people and Titania has fallen for a donkey. The poet advances on the third-wheel mortal, Dick (this is the Mopsa/Corydon haymakers scene), who eventually succumbs to his charms. The Indian Boy sees Titania and the donkey and tries to strangle Oberon. Puck snaps his fingers and out go the lights.
A divertisement, involving the seasons (gods, presumably, dressed in very bright and garish '60s costumes) celebrating the birthday party of King Theseus, a curmudgeon. It ends with him rejecting all the gifts and climbing into a coffin.
Back to the main story. Oberon undoes the spell and Titania awakes. She pairs off the mortals and then laments the loss of the Indian Boy for herself. Her ladies-in-waiting (all men in drag) dress her in full queen regalia and she goes off, presumable to do battle off-stage.
We now teleport to China where Oberon is about to hold a triple wedding, marrying the mortals to their respective partners (Caroline/John, Janet/Henry, Dick/the Drunken Poet). He's also dressed the Indian Boy in a flowing white gown, in which he does a very impressive toe dance for a man. Everything goes as planned until Titania burst through the wall in triumph. Puck tries to calm her with his magic three-foot penis, but she rips it off. Defeated, Oberon give her the Indian Boy, now returned to his scanty loin cloth.
The couples still want to be married, but marriage is dead and its god is brought in in a coffin. The fairies finally rouse him, but he refuses to consent until he sees Titania and Oberon reconcile their differences. Once they do, they're re-married, the three couples are married, and a dozen others who have appeared out of nowhere are as well. Everyone lives happily ever after. Puck snaps his fingers and the lights go out.
Very, very unusual, but incredibly great fun all the same. --Franz 22:23, 26 August 2006 (UTC)
Thank you very much, I had no idea that this existed. I've just read the amazon reviews [1]. Best,Moreschi 08:48, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Orchestration: flutes or recorders?[edit]

The article says: "The orchestra for The Fairy-Queen consists of two flutes, two oboes, two trumpets, kettledrums, strings and harpsichord continuo." I think that it is now accepted that those "flutes" is what we today know as "recorders", so I'm changing the word flute to recorder. Hope everybody agrees, I have not been able to find references for that, but I think it is quite clear, as that part is played by recorders in every Historically Informed Performance of the work nowadays. By the way, congratulations for a wonderful article (better than good, in my humble opinion). 11:06, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

Thank you for your praise! "Recorders" is correct, much obliged that you fixed this. Cheers, Moreschi Talk 19:07, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

Move? Title seems ambiguous[edit]

Does anyone find this title, The Fairy-Queen (the musical work), sufficiently unambiguous with Fairy Queen (the folk character)? Because it seems to me like both subjects could well be referred to by either title. What do others think? — (talk) 00:05, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

Well, it is the only opera to my knowledge with this title, and therefore would seem to legitimately stand alone by that title, which also includes the word "The". (e.g. Verdi's Otello article simply uses that name; other versions appear as (film) or (Rossini), etc.)
In this case and in addition, the original printed edition cover page uses the definite article, then places a hyphen between "Fairy" and "Queen". That is how the opera is known and that is what distinguishes it from other, more general names which appear on the disambig page. Viva-Verdi (talk) 15:10, 18 August 2014 (UTC)