The opera is based on the life of John Dee, an occult scholar and scientist who served as an advisor to Queen Elizabeth and is thought to have been the basis for Shakespeare's magician Prospero, from "The Tempest." Albarn himself sings in the show, with musical influences ranging from Renaissance instrumentation to West African sounds.
“This feels like the most important thing I’ve ever done," Albarn told The Telegraph in an interview. "There’s a whole lifetime ahead working at it. I’m in love with the whole process of making opera.”
The album, which includes 18 tracks, was recorded late last year. Albarn will also perform a selection of songs from "Dr Dee" at the Wiltshire OneFest event on April 14th, with the full opera set to re-open at the English National Opera in June and July as a part of the Cultural Olympiad as London hosts the 2012 Olympics.
Though this is technically Albarn's solo debut, the multi-talented musician has more than kept himself busy in the years since Blur disbanded in the early 2000s, with projects including the animated group Gorillaz, supergroups The Good, the Bad & the Queen and Rocket Juice and The Moon, and the album "Mali Music." He also collaborated on "Monkey: Journey to the West," an opera based on a 16th century Chinese novel.
And for fans who've been dreaming of a new Blur album, the recent release of "Under the Westway," the group's first new song in 9 years is an optimistic sign of more new material to come.
Watch a trailer for the "Dr Dee" album below: