The English opera, or, The vocal musick in Psyche with the instrumental therein intermix'd : to which is adjoyned the instrumental musick in The tempest
Locke, Matthew, 1621 or 2-1677., Shadwell, Thomas, 1642?-1692. Psyche.
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THat Poetry and Musick, the chief manifesters of Har∣monical Phancy, should produce such discordant effects in many, is more to be pityed than wonder'd at; it be∣ing become a kind of fashionable wit, to Peck and Carp at other Mens conceptions, how mean soever their own are. Ex∣pecting therefore to fall under the Lash of some soft headed, or hard hearted Composer (for there are too many better at finding of faults then mending them) I shall endeavour to remove those few blocks which perhaps they may take occasion to stumble at.

The first may be the Title, OPERA. To this I must an∣swer, That the word is borrowed of the Italian; who by it, distin∣guish their Comedies from their Opera's; Those, a short Plot be∣ing laid, the Comedians according to their different Theams given, Speak, and Act Extempore; but these after much consideration, industry and pains for splendid Scenes and Machines to Illustrate the Grand Design, with Art are composed in such kinds of Musick as the Subject requires: and accordingly performed. Proportio∣nable to which are these Compositions (the Reader being referr'd to the Book of the whole work for the particular Excellencies) Their nature for the most part being soft, easie, and, as far as my ability could reach, agreeable to the design of the Author: for in them you have from Ballad to single Air, Counterpoint, Recitative, Fuge, Canon, and Chromatick Musick; which variety (without vanity be it said) was never in Court or Theatre till now presen∣ted in this Nation: though I must confess there has been somethingPage  [unnumbered]done, (and more by me than any other) of this kind. And there∣fore it may justly wear the Title, though all the Tragedy be not in Musick: for the Author prudently consider'd, that though Italy was, and is the great Academy of the World for that Science and way of Entertainment, England is not: and therefore mixt it with interlocutions, as more proper to our Genius.

Another may be, The extream Compass of some of the parts. To which, the Idols of their own imagination may be pleas'd (if possible) to know, that he who Composes for Voices, not conside∣ring their extent, is like a Botching Stult, who being obliged to make Habits for men, cuts them out for Children. I suppose it needs no Explication.

The next may be, The extravagancies in some parts of the Composition, wherein (as among slender Grammarians) they may think fix'd rules are broken: but they may be satisfied, that whatever appears so, is only by way of Transition from Time or half-Time Concords, and cover'd by the extream Parts: or to sus∣pend the Ear and Judgement, for satisfying both in the Cadence.

Then, against the performance, They sing out of Tune. To which with modesty it may be answer'd, He or she that is without fault may cast the first Stone: and for those seldom defects, the major part of the Vocal performers being ignorant of Musick, their Excellencies when they do well, which generally are so, rather ought to be admired, then their accidental mistakes upbraided.

The next (and I hope the last) is, or may be, Why after so long expos'd, is it now Printed?

First, to manifest my duty to several persons of Honour, who expected it.

Secondly, to satisfie those Lovers and Understanders of Musick, whose business or distance prevent their seeing and hearing it.

Thirdly, that those for whom it was Compos'd (tho perchance ignorant of the Quality) by the quantity may be convinc'd, the Composing and Teaching it was not in a Dream; and consequently,Page  [unnumbered]that if the Expence they have been at, do not answer their big Expectation, the fault's their own, not mine.

Finally, (by way of Caution) to prevent what differences may happen between them, and whoever they may have occasion to imploy for the future, that on either side there be no dependance on good Words or Generosity.

The Instrumental Musick before and between the Acts, and the Entries in the Acts of Psyche are omitted by the consent of their Author, Seignior Gio. Baptista Draghi. The Tunes of the Entries and Dances in the Tempest (the Dancers being chang'd) are omitted for the same reason.

The Errata's in this Impression, which are not many, the Printer desires pardon for, it being his first attempt in this kind; and hopes if it fall into ingenious hands they'l Correct them: and is confident what he shall undertake for the future, shall be as free from Mistakes, as any thing that has hitherto been published.