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Music Text

Carlisle Floyd (E)


3S,3M,5T,Bar,2BBar,mimes; mixed chorus;

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere
Wortham Theater Center, Houston, TX
Michael Gieleta, director
Conductor: Patrick Summers
Company: Houston Grand Opera


Edward Kynaston Baritone
Thomas Betterton Bass-Baritone
Villiers, Duke of Buckingham Tenor
Margaret Hughes Soprano
Lady Meresvale Mezzo-Soprano
Miss Frayne Soprano
Sir Charles Sedley Tenor
Charles II Tenor
Nell Gwynn Soprano
Hyde Bass-Baritone
Male Emilia Tenor
Female Emilia Mezzo-Soprano
Stage Hand Tenor
Mistress Revels Mezzo-Soprano
Ruffians Non-Speaking
Chorus of Audience Members (theater & pub)
Chorus of Guests
Time and Place

1661, London


Edward Kynaston was the last man to perform women’s roles during England’s Restoration Period. Prince of Players deals with the crises this idolized star experiences when his enormously -successful career abruptly ends by an edict from Charles II: “No He shall ere again play a She on the British stage.”

Kynaston, 26, had been acting as a boy actor for 20 years in the manner which homeless boys were trained at the time, taken off the streets by older men who instructed them in the highly stylized acting of Restoration comedy and drama. The opera follows Kynaston’s fall from stardom, his descent into the dregs of English society, and his struggle to find and claim his true identity.

Press Quotes

“…it is the story of Edward Kynaston, one of the last men to play women’s roles on the stage in Restoration England. Charles II’s edict that female parts must henceforth be played by women means that the 26-year-old actor, once the toast of London, is not only out of work, but his whole being, including his sexuality, is called into question… The emotion of a man living the wrong life is carried in the autumnal, transparent orchestration, in which wistful woodwind solos evoke the protagonist’s feminine world.”
Wall Street Journal

“During Kynaston’s transformative journey from artifice to realism, he goes from being Villiers, Duke of Buckingham’s lover to becoming passionately involved with his former dresser Peg; and from the most celebrated ‘female’ actor of the era to performing in drag at a bawdy pub…”
Opera Now

Prince of Players shows that Floyd still can champion the lyrical American opera aesthetic that he largely created… the score has evocative touches: the bustling, staccato woodwinds that describe the theater’s backstage activity; the mournful, simple music for oboe and drum that accompanies a bit of King Lear; the ominous tones of Desdemona’s death scene.”
Classical Music Review

“Floyd's telling of the story has its eyes wide open to some cruelties beneath its exotic, period-piece exterior. Oppressive gender roles, rigid social prohibitions, and the arbitrariness and damaging consequences of absolute power all leave their scars on Kynaston, so that we are as much awakened to his condition as uplifted by his triumph… an intimate, moving performance.”
Opera News


Dramatic, Poetic



Recommended Recording

Prince of Players
The Florentine Opera
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra / William Boggs
Reference Recordings

Purchase the album from Presto Music.

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