The Jubilee

Charles Dibdin | The Jubilee

The eighteenth-century’s longest-running musical comedy, a delightful celebration of Shakespeare


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“Listeners of light music really should cherish this as a true example of light music of another century; it is full of humour, wit and great tunes”

Dan Adams | Light Music Society

“This is a fantastically worthwhile project – Dibdin was a hugely important figure in the history of British theatre and music, so it is a wonderful initiative to bring his work back to life”

Sir Jonathan Bate

David Garrick’s three-day Shakespeare festival, or ‘Jubilee’, held at Stratford-upon-Avon in September 1769, was the most talked about cultural event of the British eighteenth century: a celebration of Shakespeare’s genius on a quite unprecedented scale. It was a very musical occasion, with Garrick’s delightful songs, composed by Charles Dibdin, the leading young theatre composer of the age, featuring prominently. Immediately afterwards, Garrick worked these popular songs into his musical comedy, The Jubilee, which proved an astounding triumph on the London stage, enjoying a longer opening run than any other work of the century.
This CD, issued to celebrate the 250th anniversary of these events, brings together a chamber version of The Jubilee, Dibdin’s Queen Mab, a cantata composed for the Stratford festivities, and his later Datchet Mead of 1797, a piece in which Dibdin returned to his Shakespearean inspirations to celebrate the marriage of Charlotte, Princess Royal, the eldest daughter of George III. By the 1790s Dibdin had his own London theatre, the Sans Souci, and Datchet Mead, billed as a ‘serenata’, was the most extended piece of music he ever presented there, a showcase for the musical talents that saw him acclaimed the finest British composer of his generation.

Having started the process of restoring Charles Dibdin to his proper place in British musical and theatrical history with our Christmas Gambols album – a project now strongly supported by a new Oxford University Press volume – Retrospect Opera has recorded a second Dibdin disc with Simon Butteriss, this time bringing together three works linked by Shakespearean themes. Queen Mab is a cantata composed for David Garrick’s great ‘Jubilee’, a three-day celebration of Shakespeare at Stratford-upon-Avon in 1769. The Jubilee, our main work, is Garrick’s musical comedy derived from the same occasion: it was his greatest theatrical triumph, and one of the most successful works of eighteenth-century theatre. These two works are being released to mark their 250th anniversary in 2019, and they will be accompanied by Dibdin’s serenata Datchet Mead, or The Fairy Court (1797), again featuring Queen Mab, written to celebrate the marriage of Princess Charlotte, George III’s eldest daughter.

The Jubilee

The Jubilee was one of the major triumphs of the first phase of Dibdin’s career, when he was working closely with the celebrated actor-manager, David Garrick (1717–79). Garrick organised a great Shakespeare festival, or “jubilee”, in Stratford-upon-Avon in September 1769: a landmark event in Shakespeare’s posthumous reputation and deification as Britain’s national Bard which has inspired several books. The three-day festival started auspiciously, and Dibdin’s cantata Queen Mab was a notable highlight of the first day, but unfortunately heavy rain on the second and third days forced the cancellation of many of the events and caused several comic mishaps. Not too upset, Garrick quickly adapted part of his planned celebration, with Dibdin’s music, for performance back in London at his own Drury Lane theatre. The Jubilee, or Shakespear’s Garland premiered there on 14 October, and proved immensely successful – the greatest triumph of Garrick’s careers as writer and manager. William Hopkins, the Drury Lane prompter, recorded “There never was an Entertainment produc’d that gave so much pleasure to all Degrees, Boxes, Pit and Gallery.”

The Jubilee is a celebration of Shakespeare’s greatness, but that greatness is rooted firmly in his broad popular appeal. The Shakespeare Garrick and Dibdin celebrate is a folk hero as much as a great poet, as highlighted in such lyrics as “For the lad of all lads was a Warwickshire lad” and “The pride of all nature was sweet Willy O.” Such a subject brought out Dibdin’s happiest melodic vein, and his delightful songs are fitted into a number of loosely-connected comic scenes, examining the impact on Stratford of a host of Shakespearean pilgrims. We’ll record all the main songs, with enough of the linking dialogue to make a coherent dramatic work.

Nearly three decades later, Dibdin returned to Shakespeare to celebrate the 1797 marriage of Princess Charlotte, George III’s eldest daughter, with Frederick I of Württemberg. By this time, Dibdin, renowned for his one-man shows, had his own London theatre, and he used this to present the serenata, Datchet Mead, or The Fairy Court. Datchet is a village near Windsor, and Dibdin drew on Romeo and JulietA Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Merry Wives of Windsor as he imagined the fairies gathering outside Datchet to hymn the princess’s wedding. With its strong Windsor context and many references to royal nuptials combined with Dibdin’s natural lyricism and sense of fun, this seems to us the perfect way to commemorate the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and the CD will be dedicated to them.

Charles Dibdin

Charles Dibdin (1745-1814) is a gigantic figure in the history of English song, probably the most important composer of English comic operas in the late 1700s, and, in addition, he was the most versatile entertainer of his age.

Dibdin sprang to fame at the age of nineteen, playing the part of Ralph in Samuel Arnold’s opera, The Maid of the Mill(1765). Three years later he established his reputation as a composer with The Padlock (1768), an opera in which he stole the show himself, playing the black servant, Mungo. James Boaden recalled: ‘Dibdin, by his music, and still more by his acting in a comic opera, called the Padlock, produced that degree of sensation in the public which is called a rage.’ His fame secured, in the 1770s Dibdin began writing his own librettos, producing both words and music for the two most enduringly successful operas of the decade, The Waterman (1774) and The Quaker (1775), both of them still being revived a century later. Despite all his success in the London theatres, though, Dibdin was touchy and quarrelsome, finding it increasingly hard to work in co-operative environments. Recognising this, in 1787 he staged the first of his one-man musical shows, or ‘Table Entertainments’ as he called them, Readings and Music. Back in 1767, Dibdin had been the first musician in Britain to perform on a piano in public. His interest in the instrument had continued, and in his Table Entertainments he stood, or sat, at a piano, telling dramatized stories and playing and singing songs. This format allowed him to display all his talents and became Dibdin’s principal means of engaging with his public. He opened his own little London theatre, called Sans Souci, in 1791, and continued to perform until 1809. During these decades, Dibdin wrote hundreds of songs, most of them introduced in his Table Entertainments, including the most famous of all, ‘Tom Bowling,’ originally part of The Oddities (1789). Dozens of these songs were still regularly sung decades later: no other eighteenth-century composer contributed more to the nineteenth-century English song repertoire.

(c) 2016, David Chandler

1 | Prologue

Queen Mab

Charles Dibdin (1745-1814)

Baritone | Simon Butteriss
Fortepiano | Stephen Higgins

2 | Recitative: Not long ago
3 | Air: Shakespeare, heaven’s most favoured creature
4 | Recitative: Then did the queen
5 | Air: O happy bard

The Jubilee

Charles Dibdin (1745-1814)

Baritone | Simon Butteriss
Fortepiano | Stephen Higgins

6 | Overture
7 | Let us suppose
8 | The Morning Address
9 | An Irishman stuck his head
10 | Jubilee Song – ’Tis a comical kind of a song
11 | The Warwickshire Lad – As the ballad singers
12 | Here, waiter
13 | Hollo boys! – Shakespeare’s Mulberry-Tree
14 | But see, Sirs – Chorus for the Pageant
15 | Entr’acte (allegro): The Pageant
16 | Among the rich
17 | Sweet Willy O
18 | I know nothing – All this for a Poet
19 | If you are so vulgar – Duet
20 | And with that they danced off
21 | And with that – Chorus from the Church
22 | Entr’acte (andante)

Datchet Mead

Charles Dibdin (1745-1814)

Baritone | Simon Butteriss
Fortepiano | Stephen Higgins

23 | Bright gleam’d the moon!
24 | Elfin Filma, hither trip
25 | Her fiat heard
26 | I’ve brought the petals of a rose
27 | That’s well, my sprightly elves
28 | Return’d so late?
29 | Now haste for morn comes on
30 | Shepherds bring the oaten reed
31 | The world’s awake!
32 | The fairy flute

Dibdin Jubilee Friends | 2 anonymous donors | The Nicholas Boas Charitable Trust | The Ida Carroll Trust | The Finchcocks Charity | The Bernarr Rainbow Trust | The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead | Kaori Ashizu | Vint Cerf (Life Member) | Jamie Findlay | Garrick England | The Rt Hon the Lord Heseltine and Lady Heseltine (Life Members) | Jade Sceptre | Maria Serafica (Life Member) | Roger Turner (Life Member) | Judith Waddicor (Life Member)

Retrospect Shakespeareans | 1 anonymous donor | Meg Arai | Mark Auburn | Gavin Bantock | Steve Bartlett | The British Association for Romantic Studies | Colin Craig | Roger Crowther | John Cunningham | Paul Durrant | David Fairer | Jacqueline Fujita | Garrick’s | Temple to Shakespeare Trust | Natsuko Hirakura | Peter Holbrook | Øyvind Erik Jensen (Life Member) | Piet de Jong | Kathryn Kimball | Yukako Kurose | Lewis Lloyd | Ivan Moseley | North West Music Trust | Lois Potter | Loren Rothschild | Michael Sharp | Sunday Shakespeare Society | Christopher Simons | Michael Symes

Dibdin Jubilee Sponsors | 1 anonymous donor | Nahoko Miyamoto Alvey | Robert Bearman | Amanda Weldy Boyd | Vladimir Brljak | Yoshico Cato | Hugh and Alison Chandler | Sandra Clark | Colin Coleman | Michael Dobson | Charlie Fink | Hiroyasu Fujisawa | Garrick Capital | Garrick Communications | John Garrick | Le Garrick Restaurant | Penny Gay | Stephen Gill | Todd Gilman | Siân Griffiths | Harriet Guest | Eiichi Hara | Noriyuki Harada | Paul Harvey and Harumi Takemura | Teiko Hatsui | Cynthia Hawes | Dick Hill | Graham Holderness | Peter Holland | Derek Hughes | Arata Ide | Miki Iwata | Shoichiro Kawai | Takeshi Kawashima | Masae Kawatsu | Yoriko Kitagawa | Junji Kobayashi | Tomonari Kuwayama | Isaac Land | Chris Laoutaris | Sue Lowe | Malcolm Lynde | Robert van Mackelenberg | Sumiko Maehara | Kouichi Matsumoto | Gordon McMullan | Mari Mizuno | Tomoya Oda | Michael O’Shaughnessy | Yuko Otagaki | Peter Otto | Reiko Oya | Deborah Pfuntner | Eric Rasmussen | Robert Reynolds | John Rowe | Peter Sabor | Takao Saijo | John Severn | Yasuko Shiojiri | Keiko Shirakawa | Simon Smith | Janet Snowman | Tony Strangis | Masa-aki Tatsuki | Nicholas Temperley | Emiko Toyoda | Yuichi Tsukada | Alexander Waugh | Anne Williams | Michael Witmore | Tae Yamamoto

Dibdin Jubilee Supporters | 1 anonymous donor | Nobuhiko Akamatsu | Gefen Bar-On Santor | Tom Bishop | Denis Brewer | Thomas Crochunis | Paul Douglass | James Engell | Paola Degli Esposti | Alison Findlay | Masako Fujie | Daniel Gallimore | Robin Ganev | Heather Glen | Brean Hammond | Roger Hansford | Li-Hsin Hsu | Takao Imamura | Mamiko Katayama | Sae Kitamura | Ichiro Koguchi | Nanako Konoshima | Michael John Kooy | Douglas Lanier | The Lichfield Players | J & J Lubrano Music Antiquarians LLC | Irena Makaryk | Zoltán Márkus | Steve McAdam | Tomomi Minamoto | Tetsuhito Motoyama | Miki Nakamura | Noriko Naohara | Yoshio Nishide | Kensei Nishikawa | Joseph Ortiz | David O’Shaughnessy | Roger Pringle | Paul Rice | Miwa Saito | Katherine Scheil | James Shapiro | Peter Shrubb | Emma Smith | Rie Smithers | Jane Sutherland | Hideko Tsuji | Kohei Uchimaru | Christopher Wain | Jennifer and Graham Weeks | Yuzo Yamada | Shinji Yamamoto

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by Retrospect Opera | Work In Progress