FOLLOWING ON FROM THE SUCCESS OF THE MONKEY KING, Damon Albarn is now poised to premier an opera, Doctor Dee, at the Manchester International Festival. Doctor Dee is, says Albarn, “an analysis of English identity” and the opera is based on the extraordinary real life figure of John Dee. A confidante and advisor to Queen Elizabeth 1, Dee did not draw distinctions between his mathematical research and his investigations into Hermetic magic, angel summoning and divination. Instead he considered all of his activities to constitute different facets of the same quest: the search for a transcendent understanding of the divine forms which underlie the visible world, which Dee called "pure verities". Deep stuff. Doctor Dee opens on July 1st and the opera features the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Nigerian master drummer Tony Allen and Albarn himself. As an opera, its creator maintains it’s focused on "relationships, religion, hedonism, the reinvention of ritual . . . and politics’. Sounds right up my street!