Tuesday 2 July 1661

To Westminster Hall and there walked up and down, it being Term time. Spoke with several, among others my cozen Roger Pepys, who was going up to the Parliament House, and inquired whether I had heard from my father since he went to Brampton, which I had done yesterday, who writes that my uncle is by fits stupid, and like a man that is drunk, and sometimes speechless. Home, and after my singing master had done, took coach and went to Sir William Davenant’s Opera; this being the fourth day that it hath begun, and the first that I have seen it. To-day was acted the second part of “The Siege of Rhodes.” We staid a very great while for the King and the Queen of Bohemia. And by the breaking of a board over our heads, we had a great deal of dust fell into the ladies’ necks and the men’s hair, which made good sport. The King being come, the scene opened; which indeed is very fine and magnificent, and well acted, all but the Eunuch, who was so much out that he was hissed off the stage. Home and wrote letters to my Lord at sea, and so to bed.

21 Annotations

Bradford   Link to this

"by the breaking of a board over our heads, we had a great deal of dust fell into the ladies' necks and the men's hair, which made good sport.”

So doth humour change from age to age. Imagine the same scene today.

Josh   Link to this

"well acted, all but the Eunuch, who was so much out that he was hissed off the stage."

"out" = did not know his lines, did not deliver them well, or (you've seen it happen) both combined

Louis Anthony Scarsdale   Link to this

"my uncle is by fits stupid, and like a man that is drunk, and sometimes speechless."

Many readers, alas, will probably recognize these alternating states as signs of a massive stroke.

Pedro.   Link to this

July 2nd 1661 Charles writes to Catherine, see background...

http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/2381/

daniel   Link to this

Siege of Rhodes

Davenant's work was first staged in 1655 and is considered the first opera in the English language. Having an all-sung drama was convenient in a time when spoken theatre was out-lawed, as well as innovative. a revival in the latter sixties though, cut the music out almost entirely, so the innovation didn't really catch on.

daniel   Link to this

the Eunuch

Eunuch singers were all the rage in Italy at this time. Spain likewise had an appreciation for their unusual art. France and German speaking countries seemed to receive them more coolly, prefering them heard and not seen. England too was more ambivalent until the great Italian stars of the mid-eighteenth century (Farinelli, Seresino) took the stage by storm.

i wonder if this fellow was of mediocre talent as well as being a discomforting sight for the unaccustomed British audience at this time.

Jenny Doughty   Link to this

Perhaps 'stupid' in this context means 'in a stupor' rather than the more modern meaning of the word?

Andrew Hamilton   Link to this

my uncle is by fits stupid, and like a man that is drunk, and sometimes speechless. Home, and after my singing master had done,

A morality play in miniature, showing two of the ages of man....

vicente   Link to this

The Locals being not modern medicos, would not under stand the signs of strokes, even in this 21C, I had a friend that the Policia [and they are exposed to seminars, out lining medical problems] thought he was drunk & he was actually having a massive series of strokes. They took their [*]time before they called an ambulance to the scene.
When people have problems with brain mis-activities, they appear to always go with the low IQ function Output rather than all the possibilities that they may be present.

Ruben   Link to this

Vicente:
You are so right. The poor uncle may had different kind of fits. We do not have enough information or signs to diagnose.
Today I would not dare make a diagnosis "by phone". But this uncle, and SP himself are not with us anymore, so I will try: "fits" was used to describe a short attack of unconsciousness, as in a epileptic attack. Lets assume it was the consequence of a cerebral vascular episode. He had a disarthria (difficulty to speak) or disphasia or aphasia (meaning he could not understand or explain himself). Then the local barber came to his help and took from him a quarter or two of blood from "the proper side" were I presume he was paralized. If the family could pay for it he gave him some nice purgative, to "clean" his bowels by a diahrrea. After this treatments he was left completely dehidrated, reducing his chances of recovery.

Tom Ferguson   Link to this

"... and so to bed." Is this the first time yet?

vicente   Link to this

Davenant http://www.pepysdiary.com/encyclopedia/992/
http://www.fact-index.com/w/wi/william_davenant...
-----------------------------------------------------
Sir William Davenant (February, 1606 - April 7, 1668), also spelled D'Avenant, was an English poet and playwright.
A quote that is apropro:
"For I must go where lazy Peace
Will Hide her drowsy head;
And, for the sport of kings, increase
The number of the dead."
from:The Soldier Going to the Field

Alan Bedford   Link to this

""and so to bed." Is this the first time yet?

No, I believe that the first time Sam’s ‘signature phrase’ appeared was over a year ago.

vicente   Link to this

... In 1661 Davenant converted a covered tennis court into Lincoln's Inn Fields
theatre and presented an expanded version of The Siege of Rhodes. ...
http://www.hoasm.org/VIIA/Davenant.html - 13k - similar pages
here is part I text http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/pcraddoc/siege.htm

dirk   Link to this

more about "The Siege of Rhodes"

"(...)in 1656, the first English opera - The Siege of Rhodes - was played before a paying audience at Rutland House in London.

No puritan troops turned up to stop it, and the show proved so popular that Davenant wrote a sequel - The Siege of Rhodes, Part II - as well as two jingoistic dramas promoting Cromwell's foreign policy, The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru and The History of Sir Francis Drake. Cromwell died prematurely in 1657, and it became clear that a restoration of the Stuarts - and with them all the traditional British liberties, including the stage - would soon follow. And so opera in English was born, an illegitimate child of the puritan decade. Like many of his compatriots, following the Restoration, Davenant was much preoccupied with the events of the preceding years, and so began to stage works that reflected the recent political traumas.

Source:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0%2C3858%2C4357...

Sam saw a performance of the *2nd* part mentioned above.

daniel   Link to this

very well put, Dirk!

as I mentioned, a revival of "siege" had no music implying that the original intent was simply to perform drama during a puritan age. English Opera as an illegitimate child of the times didn't really ever take off. a couple of decades later a form of "semi-opera" became popular which consisted of a spoken drama with a whole lot of show stopping music, much in the vein of today's musicals. All-sung drama didn't really become popular until Italian opera arrived around the time of the first Hanoverian king.

it is nice to see Sam enjoying something rather cutting edge despite the eunuch.

Bradford   Link to this

As Daniel says, "semi-opera" was a gorgeous spectacle; by the time Purcell was producing "The Faery Queen" and "King Arthur" later in the century, the strange convention had arisen where the main characters (think Titania, Oberon, and Arthur) were not permitted to sing, only the less grand characters. Short operas by Blow ("Venus and Adonis") and Purcell ("Dido and Aeneas") overrode this notion; but their example did not catch on. Handel's operas were in Italian, his "dramatic oratorios" in English---indeed, one has to wait till Thomas ("Rule Britannia") Arne's "Artaxerxes," in the late 1700s, before you got opera, in English, sung throughout. But Sam Pepys, like Sam Johnson, might have rated that an "exotic, irrational entertainment."

dirk   Link to this

semi-opera

re - Daniel
Just want to make clear the wording in my previous annotation was not mine. I merely quoted from the site.

PHE   Link to this

And so to bed
First appearance was as early as 15th January 1660 (from a wordsearch on the Wheatly text)

Douglas Robertson   Link to this

The Eunuch--"so much out"--possibly "so much off-key"?

heldmyw   Link to this

Well...

Who hasn't wanted to go out of an evening, quaff a couple liters of Rhenish and hiss a eunuch?

It's a rite of passage and a common Friday night amusement here in Detroit.

I mean... when I was a kid... ah. Another time.

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