Damon Albarn takes his latest opera, Dr Dee, to London's Covent Garden in June. Yet before the work about the mysterious Elizabethan alchemist and scholar opens at the Coliseum, the Blur frontman takes a short detour to Wiltshire with a band that includes Guinean musician Madou Diabaté.
Albarn is to present songs and music from Dr Dee at a bucolic music festival, OneFest, to be held in the grounds of Rockley Manor, somewhere between Marlborough and Swindon.
Dr Dee gives Albarn a chance to show off his musical chops, with a score that combines that period's choral practice and instrumentation with modern and West African sounds.
OneFest raises funds for a struggling pub, the Barge Inn, which has been taken over by the local community. When festival co-founder Stephen Budd saw Dr Dee and heard about the London shows, he saw an opportunity to perform its music in sympathetic surroundings that Albarn pounced on, he explains. "I was totally blown away by it, but especially the beauty of the songs that Damon himself sang. They were quintessentially English and had an amazing rural, even folk, quality to them. We discussed him presenting those songs... and he decided he'd like to do that as a unique and special one-off performance."
Damon Albarn and band perform at OneFest, Rockley Manor, Wiltshire (www.onefestuk.com) on 14 April