Theatrical works in the eighteenth-century did not play for continuous ‘runs’ in the manner of modern popular theatre. The key figure is the number of performances in a particular season, making the most successful theatrical work of the British eighteenth century David Garrick’s The Jubilee, with music by Charles Dibdin, which played for 91 performances in the 1769-70 season.
To mark the 250th anniversary of this important musical play, Retrospect Opera has released a recording which includes all the sung music and a good deal of the spoken dialogue. For more information visit: http://www.retrospectopera.org.uk/CD_SALES/CD_details_Jubilee.html
The Jubilee is a comic representation of Garrick’s Shakespeare ‘Jubilee’ of 1769, a 3-day festival in Stratford-upon-Avon that famously ended up getting washed out, but which achieved unprecedented publicity and represents a milestone in the history of Shakespeare’s reception. It deifies Shakespeare, but at the same time gently pokes fun at the fashion for literary tourism that the festival did so much to promote.
The central character is an Irishman who has traveled all the way to Stratford to see the Jubilee, but who falls asleep at the wrong time, and misses the grand Shakespeare pageant. Dibdin’s songs are richly melodic and extremely memorable, and several of them, celebrating Shakespeare as a sort of folk hero (‘The lad of all lads was a Warwickshire lad’!), enjoyed a long cultural afterlife.
The Jubilee should be essential listening for anyone interested in the ‘god of our idolatry’ idea of Shakespeare that Garrick bequeathed to the Romantics, and representations of the Irish on the English stage.
Retrospect Opera is constituted as a charity so all profits from the sale of The Jubilee go directly towards making more such recordings possible.