On 11th April 1701, crowds gathered in the Dorset Garden Theatre - London society at its most oppulent, paraded before the stage in wigs and silks. A huge orchestra was assembled before them with trumpets and drums proclaiming that the entertainment had begun!
What's it all about?
Its an opera - but not as we know it. Its an experiment, a flash of inspiration and a breath of fresh air.
The JoP: Daniel Purcell's The Judgment of Paris has never been recorded before. Its one of four operas written for a competition in 1701. We managed to track down the original score (tucked away in the British Library) and we've made our own edition, its the only one there is!
The story: Think Blind Date with a Restoration twist. Set in ancient Greece, a humble shepherd is challenged by Mercury to choose which of three Goddesses is the most beautiful. What more could he wish for? But its not as easy as that! Each diva tries to win Paris over, but eventually he falls head-over-heels for Venus - Goddess of Love.
The competition: In 1701 a group of noblemen financed a spectacular event to promote opera, in English, in England. Before the competition, operas in England were simply plays with music and dances thrown in for good measure - more High School Musical than Das Rhinegold. The JoP changed all of that, but don't worry - there's not a horned helmet in sight!
A scandal: Four of the best composers in the country entered operas, all using the same libretto. Daniel Purcell, John Eccles and Gottfried Finger were all hugely successful but it was the unknown John Weldon who took home the first prize. Weldon, having learnt how the competition would be judged (imagine 17th century X Factor), was alledged to have filled the audience with his supporters... Finger was so disgusted he left the country in protest!
Daniel Purcell: A man of mystery, Daniel Purcell has been overshadowed by Henry Purcell for over 300 years - we can't even be sure if they were brothers or cousins. He remains one of the most inventive and exciting composers of the Baroque period. The Judgment of Paris is his greatest work.
Who are we?
Spiritato! are a dynamic group of young musicians based in London. As individuals we can be found working with many of the best period-instrument orchestras in the world, but together we share a passion for music written for the London theatres at the turn of the 17th century.
We've been going about four years and in 2012 we released our first album for the Resonus Classics label - Bella Dama. We've toured south-west France and earlier this year, we were the only British group to be selected to perform for the European Early Music Network in Marseille. We've appeared at the Brighton Early Music Festival and played live on BBC Radio 3.
For our second album, we're going back to our roots to make the first ever recording of an opera written for the London stage in 1701. We love to discover new, old composers and with this project we've done exactly that. Now its time to show everyone what they've been missing!
Why do we need your help?
This is the largest project we've ever done. We've already raised over half of the total budget for the recording, but without your help it will have all been for nothing. Forty musicians will be involved in the project, including five world-class soloists, specialist instruments need to be hired and venues for rehearsals and recordings booked. The more support we have, the more we can rehearse, the longer we can spend in the studio, and the more fantastic the final result will be!
OK, but if it's so good why hasn't it been done before?
Sometimes you just can't see the wood for the trees. In Britain we love Henry Purcell and Handel, but when this piece was written, Purcell was dead and Handel was yet to arrive in London. There's a huge black hole between 1695 and 1710 which has been ignored for too long.
However, theatre audiences weren't twiddling their thumbs waiting for Handel to turn up! The stage wasn't silent. Something exciting was happening and a whole generation of English composers were stepping out of the shadow of Henry Purcell and flexing their musical muscles!
The Judgment of Paris marked a new era for the English stage, but it was short-lived. Within 5 years, fashions had changed. The public had developed a taste for opera, but the new sensation of the age was not to be sung in English. Italian opera had arrived and the golden-age of the 'home-grown' English composers was over.
Big or small, any donation we receive will make a huge difference to the project. Please help spread the word and follow us on the links below.
We just wanted to let you know that last weekend we completed our world-premiere recording of The Judgment of Paris! Thanks to your support we were able to fill the orchestra with some amazing musicians and stunning soloists - we cannot wait to share it with you!
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to make our fundraising project such a success!
We are incredibly touched by your generosity and help with promotion throughout the last eight weeks. We could not have done it without you.
The more money we raise the more we can rehearse and the better the final recording will be! It is so difficult for newly established groups to gain recognition, especially when even large, well-known groups are struggling to attract attention and funds. We have been overwhelmed by the level of support, encouragement and enthusiasm shown by everyone and are so pleased to finally have the future of the project secured.
We have always believed that young groups should be discovering and championing new paths through the Early Music world. This often takes an enormous amount of courage from potential investors and so to receive such support as we have done already is wonderful. It allows us to have the confidence to continue developing innovative plans for the future and shows that there really are people who share our interest in finding something new!
We'll be in touch to let you know how the project is developing but if you would like to know anything more, please drop us a line at email@example.com
Thank you once again!!
Very best wishes
Thank you to everyone who has given their support to the project so far. We are very excited to be at 96% with less than five days to go!
Now we are so close to completing our funding, we want to give away as many rewards as we can.
If you know anyone who you think might like a fanfare, please send them the link!
We're saving up some extra rewards for everyone - we'll be sending them out very soon - thanks to you!
Thank you very much for all your support so far.
To celebrate reaching 900 shares on facebook, we're giving everyone who donates TODAY a special bonus track.
So tell you friends to get sponsoring because when we get to 60% EVERYONE is getting a little something to say thank you!!
So far 54 backers have given the amazing equivalent of 256 £10 notes, please help us make it more! By sending out a few links to our page you can make them, (and us) very happy!
Thank you to everyone who has supported the project so far with such incredibly generous donations. We're delighted with how things are going!
To celebrate reaching 46% funded, here's a poem - ODE ON THE JUDGMENT OF PARIS:
Thanks again for all your support. Next challenge - 50% !!
A huge thank you to everyone who has supported the project so far, we are absolutely thrilled to be a quarter of the way to meeting our budget!
Thank you also to everyone who has joined us on facebook and twitter to help promote The Judgment of Paris, it makes a big difference so we are very grateful.
If we can make 30% by the end of this week we have another lovely reward to send to ALL our backers - so please keep spreading the news!
www.facebook.com/spiritato or search @spiritato
Thank you very much to everyone who has sponsored us so far, we are thrilled to bits!
We really hope you are enjoying your rewards, please help us spread the word on facebook and twitter!