Doctor Dee

One of Chetham’s most famous residents has provided the inspiration for a new musical work by Damon Albarn, which is being premiered in July as part of the Manchester International Festival.

The modern opera Doctor Dee explores the life and work of this most remarkable of renaissance men, who was warden of the Collegiate Church – now the Cathedral – from 1595 until his death in 1609. John Dee was a mysterious character, who developed a reputation as an astrologer, alchemist and occultist but was also an important renaissance scientist who believed mathematics was central to human progress and learning, and became a trusted advisor to Queen Elizabeth I.

Members of the creative team behind the work, including Damon Albarn and theatre director Rufus Norris, visited the Library to see the place where he lived and worked in the final years of his life. They looked at a selection of material including letters and books belonging to John Dee, as well as the famous oval burn mark on the Audit Room table which is said to be the hoof print of the devil, conjured up one dark Manchester night by Dee’s magic arts.

You can read more about the opera and the man behind it here, including part of a short interview with Librarian Michael Powell. An article on John Dee can be found on the BBC website here.

Doctor Dee runs from 1-3 and 5-9 July at the Palace Theatre. Tickets can be obtained from the MIF website.


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