Sunday, 10 February 2008

53. John Blow - Venus and Adonis (c.1683)


Title: Venus & Adonis
Performers: New London Consort, Catherine Bott, Michael George, Libby Crabtree
Director: Philip Pickett
Year: 1992
Length: 53 minutes


This is the first British opera that we have knowledge of and it is quite an interesting one. Firstly it is much shorter than any one we have had up until now, lasting under one hour and then it is quite a simple affair. The plot is an extremely uncomplicated one.

This is the story of how Adonis goes hunting and Venus waits for him and eventually he comes back dying from a wound and then dies. So not much happening there, but there are some fascinating vignettes peppering the thing like the lesson that Cupid gives to the little cupids while they and Venus are waiting for the return of Adonis.

In the end it is quite derivative music, coming from a mix of French and Italian tradition, but with a humour all of its own, a very interesting piece with some truly great moments like the lesson and the mourning of Adonis.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Between 1680 and 1687 he [John Blow] wrote his only stage composition of which any record survives, the Masque for the entertainment of the King, Venus and Adonis. In this Mary Davies played the part of Venus, and her daughter by Charles II, Lady Mary Tudor, appeared as Cupid.

Some people from the Old Country do a production of Venus and Adonis, here's the third act:

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