a mournful Masque in 3 parts
Venus & Adonis
The playful Cupid accidentally pierces his mother Venus with one of his arrows. The next person Venus sees is the handsome youth Adonis, with whom she immediately falls in love. Adonis is a hunter, and she decides that in order to be with him, she will take on the form of the goddess of the hunt, Artemis. Venus warns Adonis of the danger of hunting the wild boar, but he does not heed the warning, and is gored to death by the boar.*
In John Blow's version, Venus encourages Adonis to go hunting, while he is averse, saying:
Adonis will not hunt today:
I have already caught the noblest prey.
No, my shepherd haste away:
Absence kindles new desire,
I would not have my lover tire.
And Cupid observes that almost no one in the court is faithful.
Courtiers, there is no faith in you,
You change as often as you can:
Your women they continue true
But till they see another man.
Composed in the late 1600s, Venus & Adonis is believed to be the earliest surviving English opera, written originally as court amusement for King Charles. It is a fascinating window into the period and a musical gem that sparkles anew for us today.