The Judgement of Paris: Thomas Arne (1742)

Bernstein: The Judgement of Paris

(Brook Street Band at St George’s Hanover Square, 6 April 2018)

Some of you may remember that I saw Thomas Arne’s pastoral comedy The Judgement of Paris two summers ago, in the beautiful rectory garden at Bampton. This production for the London Handel Festival may have lacked the bucolic surroundings, but it made up for it in the quality of the cast, which marshalled a real dream team of young British singers. Yet the evening had a surprise in store: a bit of audience interaction, which pitted Arne directly against Handel and treated us to some highlights from the older composer’s Semele. Both The Judgement of Paris and Semele were based on libretti by William Congreve, whose sprightly, slightly rakish poetry still raises smiles.

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Divine Comedies: Christoph Willibald Gluck and Thomas Arne

Divine Comedies: Bampton Classical Opera

(Bampton Classical Opera, 22 July 2016)

Philemon & Baucis (Gluck)  ·  The Judgement of Paris (Arne)

On a warm summer evening, the village of Bampton in Oxfordshire is almost indecently beautiful. The golden stone glows in the sunlight, the leaves look even greener against blue skies dotted with fluffy clouds, and flocks of swifts dart at dusk around the church tower. But one thing sets the village apart from its Cotswold rivals. Every summer, the Deanery garden is transformed by an outdoor stage and Bampton Classical Opera put on productions of lesser-known Baroque music. Past years have featured a wealth of tantalising rarities and this season saw the performance of two one-act operas, given the overall heading Divine Comedies: first, Gluck’s Philemon and Baucis and, second, Arne’s Judgement of Paris.

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