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Buffalo Chamber Players go for Baroque with ‘Venus and Adonis’

The Buffalo Chamber Players – joined by dancers from the Neglia Ballet – are going far back in time and exploring the early Baroque. They are presenting two performances of John Blow’s “Venus and Adonis.” The opera’s history lives up to its alluring title. It was composed in 1683 for the court of King Charles II. When it was first performed, Venus was portrayed by the King’s mistress, and their daughter played Cupid. (Of course Cupid plays a part in the drama. There also is a bevy of Little Cupids.)

Scholars have long admired the music of “Venus and Adonis.” The opera – or masque, as it was called – is said to have influenced the more famous “Dido and Aeneas,” the work of Blow’s student Henry Purcell. Blow made effective use of chromaticism and the opera has passion and intensity. It offers an intimate window on the heated atmosphere of the court of Charles II, where eroticism was prized and faith and constancy were scorned.

This rare presentation features Colleen Marcello as Venus. It is an abrupt role reversal for Marcello, who sang the part of Sister Blanche last fall in Opera Sacra’s “The Dialogues of the Carmelites.” Kyle Botsford sings the part of Adonis. Two Buffalo Seminary students, Madison Chamberlain and Tracy Clark, alternate as Cupid. The Little Cupids are on loan from the St. Paul’s Cathedral Boys’ Choir.

Performances take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the appropriately rococo chapel of Buffalo Seminary (205 Bidwell Parkway). Tickets are $15, students $5. Visit buffalochamberplayers.org or call 462-5659.

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