Cambridge Handel Opera Company and Academy of Ancient Music

The Judgment of ParisFollowing their award-winning co-production of Eccles’ Semele, Cambridge Handel Opera Company, Academy of Ancient Music and Cambridge Early Music present another English opera masterpiece.

Between The Way of the World and his libretto for Semele, Congreve wrote the libretto of a one-act masque on the famous classical story of the contest between three goddesses for the award of a golden apple by Paris, prince of Troy – a judgment that led to the Trojan War.

The libretto was itself designed for a contest, a musical one, with cash prizes, handsomely sponsored by a group of aristocrats. John Weldon, organist of New College Oxford, was the youngest finalist. Unexpectedly, his setting  – which improves on Congreve’s libretto ­– won first place in the ‘Musick Prize’, triumphing over the more conservative submissions by the three older and more experienced finalists, John Eccles, Daniel Purcell, and Gottfried Finger.

Weldon had studied with Purcell, and was one of his most talented followers. In The Judgment of Paris he combines elements of Purcell’s style with attractive features of modern Italian opera, a kaleidoscopic variety of forms, vivid instrumental dialoguing, bravura coloratura for the soloists, charming choruses (in up to six parts) and not a few flashes of wit, suggesting how successfully English opera could have developed had Italian opera not annexed elite fashion.

Weldon’s unjustly neglected masque has had only one professional performance since the eighteenth century and there is no recording – an injustice that CHOC and AAM will resolve with a splendid group of performers.

Anna Dennis Venus
Kitty Whately Pallas
Helen Charlston Juno
Thomas Walker Mercury
Jonathan Brown Paris
Anna Cavaliero Attendant 1
Aksel Rykkvin Attendant 2
Academy of Ancient Music
Julian Perkins director
Tickets for this concert are only available through Cambridge Live’s box-office and FOCEM special seating areas will not apply. 

Cambridge Early Music’s collaboration with CHOC and AAM is generously supported by Roger Mayhew.

Cambridge Handel Opera Company is supported by Continuo Foundation for the performance and recording of this programme.

Cambridge Handel Opera Company - logo                 Academy of Ancient Music - logo                    Continuo Foundation logo

Trinity College Chapel (map)
Sat 28 Oct 2023 19:15

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