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Damon Albarn Starring in Opera About Awesome Occultist

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If there's anyone more prolific than Pearl Jam, it's Damon Albarn. He released two albums last year with the Gorillaz, embarked on a massive tour with the animated band, and returned to the studio with Blur. And for his first act of 2011, Albarn has written an upcoming opera about 16th century British icon John Dee, and plans to perform in it, too. This will be Albarn's second opera, and first that doesn't involve primates: His opera Monkey: Journey to the West debuted in 2007.

Anyone who made it about 200 pages deep into Foucault's Pendulum remembers Dee as an occultist, medium, Rosicrucian, and alchemist who also advised the British royal family, created the Monas Hieroglyphica, served as a spy and basically just led a baffling and near-mythical life. It is on this compelling portrait of a Renaissance Man that Albarn will base his opera Doctor Dee, so there's plenty of subject matter for Albarn to mine, even though we can never make sense of -- or sit down and devote our full attention to -- opera music. We're eager to hear how Albarn sounds belting out those long notes, though.

Like Monkey: Journey to the West, Doctor Dee will premiere at the Manchester International Festival in late July, the BBC reports, before moving to the English National Opera. After that, Albarn will hopefully return to making music we actually enjoy listening to.

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