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March 11th and 12th at Lowell House

By J. A. B.

That three centuries have neither soured the emotion nor blighted the charm of one of the most delightful of English operas was proven last night in the Lowell House Musical Society's production of Venus and Adonis by Dr. John Blow. The old wine of Dr. Blow's music tasted as sweet in the new bottle as it ever could have at a court performance in Restoration England, and its freshness rang welcome on ears tired by the flourishes of grand opera. The story of the mythical lovers, somewhat perverted to Restoration conventions, is told with only three chief characters and only three or four main episodes, yet one cannot mistake the genuineness of its humor or the poignancy of its emotion. It touches true music-drama much closer than does the Handelian form. Unlike operas of the type of Acis and Galatea, Venus and Adonis is unmarred by the intrusion of spoken dialogue. Blow has managed to weld its short airs with the recitatives to produce a work of extreme simplicity, the very opposite of Handel's elaborate de capo arias which alternate with stretches of dreary dialogue. And in passages like Adonis' death scene, he rises into the front ranks of composers. For musical humor and simplicity, listen also to the duet of Venus and Adonis beginning "Adonis will not hunt today," and to Cupid's spelling lesson in the second act.

Nancy Waite sang the part of Venus last night with great dignity and assurance and with a beautifully pure, cultivated voice. John Darr played Adonis capably; Miriam Silverman played the role of Cupid with much verve. The orchestra, conducted by Malcolm Holmes and assisted at the harpsichord by Claude Chiasson, performed valiantly throughout, and the music, characteristically Restoration in its use of dissonance and minor modulations, came out excellently. Lastly the dances designed by Miss Katherine Schroeder and executed by the Radcliffe Ballet, lent a colorful and decorative setting to the performance.

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