Henry Purcell so dominates the pre-Handel musical landscape of London that it is assumed all-sung opera in English barely existed.
But here is a charming one-acter by Purcell’s brother – or possibly cousin – Daniel (c1664-1717), written for a competition in 1700 that was designed to stimulate interest in the art form.
An impish tale of competitive love among the classical gods, The Judgment of Paris may lack the ingenuity and depth of Dido and Aeneas, but it has enough virtues – including Venus’s sensuous “Nature fram’d thee sure for Loving” and Paris’s heart-rending “I yield, I yield” – to be noteworthy.
Thanks to this well-made recording, with a cast led by soprano Anna Dennis and countertenor Samuel Boden, an overlooked episode in English musical history is exposed.
The Judgment of Paris
(Resonus) download only