It has come to the attention of the Chemistry World offices that Damon Albarn will be writing and starring in a musical based on Dr John Dee: alchemist, astrologer, mathmatician, spy and confident of Queen Elizabeth I.

The musical will premier at the Manchester International Festival in July and will then move to the English National Opera.

To me Albarn will always be most closely associated with Blur but, as well as other bands, Albarn has form in the musical writing business with Monkey: Journey to the West.

Turns out Dee actually went to school in my home town of Chelmsford, before heading to Cambridge to study ‘Greek, Latin, philosophy, geometry, arithmetic and astronomy’. The program for the opera says:

In the age before science and magic parted company, Doctor John Dee was the ultimate Renaissance Man: astrologer, alchemist, mathematician and spy, he coined the term ‘British Empire’ and equipped the Elizabethan Court with the knowledge to make it manifest. The inspiration for both Marlowe’s Faust and Shakespeare’s Prospero, Dee studied the Heavens, he spoke with Archangels, and he paid a bitter personal price.

Doctor Dee explores ritual and symbolism in this country, past and present, using John Dee – one of England’s greatest but largely forgotten men – as catalyst.

Anyone planning on buying a ticket? I’m very tempted.

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