The Jacobs School of Music will present a performance of English Baroque composer John Blow’s three-act masque, Venus and Adonis, Saturday April 20 at 8pm in Auer Hall. The concert will be performed by instrumentalists and singers from the school’s Early Music Institute and directed by Nigel North.
Described as “A Masque for the Entertainment of the King”, Venus and Adonis was first performed before King Charles II and his court, in Oxford in 1681. The subject was well known; a mythological episode from Ovid’s Metamorphoses in which the Goddess Venus falls in love with the mortal and virile Adonis. He leaves her in order to join a hunt and be able to enjoy worldly pursuits. She then loses him when he is fatally wounded by a wild boar during the hunt.
John Blow’s version, which must have appealed to the rather pleasure loving and immoral court of Charles II, was conceived as court entertainment and also something of a family affair. One of the King’s mistresses, the actress Moll Davies, played the part of Venus and one can imagine how Charles would have identified with the role of Adonis! Their nine year-old illegitimate daughter, Lady Mary Tudor, played the role of Cupid. In real life Moll Davies was eventually discarded and was never Charles’ favorite. Nell Gwyn (another actress) held the role as the King’ preferred lover.
Saturday’s performance will be presented as a concert performance of the work.