The Mark Morris Dance Group: a clip from "L'Allegro, il Penseroso, and il Moderato"

Mark Morris Dance Group - L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato - IDFB 2010

In 1740 Handel set to music Milton's poems "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso," with a lightness of touch matching that of his source. The genius of Mark Morris appears very memorably in his recognition that the universally recognized charm of these lyrics and their equally delightful musical setting determine their fitness for a ballet in his characteristic lively manner. This brief excerpt, focussed on the conclusion of "L'Allegro," perfectly matches its buoyant spirit and humour: the lightness of the dancers matches that of the positive temperament reflected throughout the poem. Interestingly enough, Handel's version modifies the originals by adding a third option, "Il Moderato," matching the moderation of the Age of Reason, even though Milton's poems clearly mark not a balance of two equal personalities but a progression over two consecutive days from heedlessness to alertness which may not properly be questioned, by Milton's standards (see: Hugh M. Richmond, "L'Allegro and Il Penseroso," in The Christian Revolutionary: John Milton, UC Press, 1974, pp. 57-65).



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