Ode to Captain Cook, from Omai, or, a Trip Around the World
Robert Hoskins (orch. By David Vine)
Year of Publication:
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Score: Perfect/ Parts: Unbound
Score (Hardcopy): $165.00 Score (PDF): $123.75 Performance material on hire
When news of the violent death of Captain James Cook finally reached England in January 1780 it created a sensation. Cook’s earlier voyages of discovery had stimulated a huge interest in the exotic world of the Pacific, and Mai, the young Ra’iatean who arrived in London in 1774 with Tobias Furneaux, became one of the most celebrated figures in London during the two years he spent there. At Christmas 1785, several years after Mai’s return to the Society islands and Cook’s death in Hawaii, Covent Garden staged a new pantomime entertainment entitled Omai, or, A Trip Round the World. By celebrating Mai in mimed action and song, this work fed the public fascination with the primitive past – its rituals, artifacts and crafts – while managing to portray the death of Cook with a theatrical sense of symbolism. William Shield’s score was remarkable for including Polynesian instruments which had been brought back to England by Lieutenant James Burney, one of Furneaux’s officers and the son of the distinguished music historian Dr Charles Burney. Although the original orchestral parts have not survived, Robert Hoskins and David Vine have cleverly reconstructed the core of the work from the vocal score along with the closing apotheosis of Captain Cook. The edition is prefaced by a fascinating introduction to the work by Robert Hoskins, the leading authority on William Shield.