In collaboration with early music colleagues Opera Lafayette, we explore the libretto for John Blow’s Venus and Adonis, based on Shakespeare’s poem, along with some of the Restoration-era's female literary voices.
The work of Anne Kingsmill Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1661-1720), provides a focus for this discussion of attribution, collaboration, and early feminist literature. Her collection of poetry—published only as "Written by a Lady"—explores romance, social justice, and mental health struggles. In addition, Finch is credited as the librettist for this early English opera of Venus and Adonis, though the unique, irreverent text may also have ties to Aphra Behn and Anne Killigrew.
Following opening remarks by Opera Lafayette Artistic Director Ryan Brown, Folger Shakespeare Library Director Michael Witmore will be in conversation with Dr. Jennifer Keith, Folger Institute Fellow (2014-15) and editor of the forthcoming Cambridge Edition of The Works of Anne Finch. After the talk, Eric Weinmann Librarian and Director of Collections Greg Prickman will guide you through related rare materials from the Folger collection.
Opera Lafayette opens its 25th-anniversary season with Venus and Adonis, performing November 21 and 23 at The Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC. Click here to purchase tickets.
About Opera Lafayette:
Opera Lafayette, which performs in New York City and Washington, DC, is renowned for its performances of both forgotten works that were popular and significant to the cultural history of the 17th through 19th centuries, and early opera which is already part of the modern canon. For more information, visit operalafayette.org.