John Blow’s Venus & Adonis (circa 1683) was composed and performed as a “masque” – an entertainment of music, song, drama, and dance presented for the King of England and his lively court. Blow’s operatic rendition of this oft-told myth celebrates the full spectrum of dramatic storytelling, ranging in style and mood from delightful pastoral comedy to passionate romance, and ultimately arriving at solemn tragedy. A stunning new production re-imagines this rarely-performed Baroque gem as a kind of art museum come alive – its sumptuous music breathing life and love into a host of gorgeous sculptures and paintings that animate and entertain.
D’ye Ken John Blow?
Stage Director David R. Gammons made very effective use of Wait and Cutter’s lofty and florid 1889 Registry of Deeds Courtroom, casting a particularly bright light on the oh-so-very-apt frieze of putti (with a rifle-toting minuteman substituting for Cupid). He kept the singers and dancers in constant motion, placing them in the balcony, on staircases, on sidestages, and within the aisles, often all at once. ...Since the singers and dancers often moved together (and dancers sometimes doubled singers), their roles blurred, especially because many singers actually could move; we saw no "stand and deliver," really. Singers and dancers interacted with each other rather than aiming for the audience. Alissa Cardone choreographed lots of steps, gestures and tableaux (we imagined Martha Graham, Isadora Duncan, Jose Limon, Twyla Tharpe, and Gypsy Rose Lee) for the enthusiastic Terpsichoreans who rarely absented themselves from the stage. In partnership with Gammons, Cardone also found appealing ways for the singers to move. ...With highly imaginative and effective use of space and forces, this small company can outperform its larger and older brethren.
- Lee Eisman, Boston Musical Intelligencer
Opera by John Blow
June 17-19, 2022
Cambridge Chamber Ensemble
Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, Cambridge, MA
Photos: David R. Gammons