Henry Purcell: King Arthur “The Cold Song”

November 28, 2007

An unforgettable performance by the late Klaus Nomi. Notes by anTONYM2M2 and thanks to Brad for bringing this to my attention.

I remember seeing Klaus Nomi for the first time on the BBC’s The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1979 and I thought how peculiarly odd he was…..with that female soprano voice, his odd appearance and a pop sensibility to-boot, he was bizarre and brilliant.

Klaus had made an impact on new-wave music in the late 70’s and was working to break into the pop mainstream just before he died. His first love however, was Opera.

In this video, Klaus sings Purcell’s strange aria The Cold Song from the English 17th century baroque opera King Arthur

The opera’s composer Purcell died in 1695 from incurable T.B. aged 36, while in 1983 Klaus sadly died succumbing to complications due to Aids, aged 39. Both men were remarkably talented but died so young.

———- Purcell’s Cold Genius ———–

What power art thou, who from below
Hast made me rise unwillingly and slow
From beds of everlasting snow
See’st thou not ( how stiff )2) and wondrous old
Far unfit to bear the bitter cold,
I ( can scarcely move or draw my breath )2)
Let me, let me freeze again to death.3)


The Lyrics to this old aria are strangely prophetic. Watching it now, knowing what a difficult time Klaus was having, just adds to its intensity and sadness

The film The Nomi Song was released a few years ago…telling the Klaus Nomi story… see trailer here

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