Songs of Alchemy

Feature film of SONGS OF ALCHEMY

currently showing at several international film festivals.


Songs of Alchemy is an opera set around the life of alchemist John Dee (1527-1608), a pre-cursor of Newton, noted English mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, geographer, occultist, and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I.

John Dee was said to communicate with spirits in his quest to discover the secrets of the universe, most notably with the four archangels Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael and Michael, who he accessed by way of a crystal shewstone. These angels were often the subjects of the alchemists incantations and were believed to hold the secrets of all of life and death as well as knowledge of the future and how to transform lead into gold.

This piece explores Dee’s notions of the future, presenting the angels as scientists, who agree to reveal nature’s riddles, but warn that technology will have its pros and cons. This production uses Dee’s original diary accounts and incantations, Latin liturgy and poems by Henry Vaughan, Thomas Norton, Edmund Spenser and other alchemists and contemporaries.

Songs of Alchemy provides a fascinating insight into the Elizabethan alchemists who were not merely searching for gold, but were also scientists, philosophers and spiritual men. It also showcases some wonderful, lyrical and dramatic music and provides a bridge to a time when angels held the keys to the world.

Written and composed by Kirsten Morrison, it has been performed at the Arcola Theatre and at the Chisholm Festival in Scotland.

Video extracts here:

Music here: