Venus & Adonis – Pepusch – Saturday 23 November, 2.00pm; Tuesday 26 November, 6:30pm

It’s not till November, but since that time of the year usually becomes frantically busy, here’s a heads-up to put these dates in the diary if you’re in Brisbane! The Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for the History of the Emotions will host two performances of Johann Christoph Pepusch’s masque Venus & Adonis with baroque orchestra at the University of Queensland. First performed to critical acclaim at London’s Theatre Royal at Drury Lane in March 1715, the work is a setting of an English-language libretto by Colley Cibber (after Ovid). Similar in tone and length to Handel’s Acis & Galatea, this small-scale opera tells the captivating story of the love between Venus and Adonis and the bitter jealousy of his rival, Mars.
The work will be performed with vocal soloists and baroque instrumentalists drawn both locally (including moi) and from further afield, under the musical direction of harpsichordist Donald Nicholson (a member of the Melbourne-based baroque trio Latitude 37) with theatrical direction by Professor Jane Davidson (of UWA), who has recently worked on a number of baroque operas in collaboration with harpist Andrew Lawrence-King, including a Copenhagen production of Monteverdi’s Orfeo. The score has been edited by UQ academic (and baroque oboist) Dr Samantha Owens from a manuscript set of parts, now held in the library of London’s Royal Academy of Music, that can be traced back to a 1718 revival at the Lincoln’s Inn Fields theatre. The two performances, on Saturday, 23 November at 2.00pm and Tuesday, 26 November at 6:30pm, are both at the UQ Art Museum (St Lucia Campus). For further information, please contact Sam Owens (e-mail: s.owens@uq.edu.au).

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