Venus and Adonis



Synthetic version by www.operalib.eu.

From here you page to libretto extended version .
From here you page to PDF version libretto.

QR code:
QR code

Libretto by ANONYMOUS.
Music by John BLOW.

First performance: 1683, London.

Dramatis Personae:













Shepherds (Alto, Tenor, and Bass). Chorus of Shepherds and Shepherdesses, Huntsmen, Cupids, Graces, Etc.

The Prologue
Single scene

The curtain is drawn where is discovered Cupid with a bow in one hand and an arrow in the other and arrows by his side and around him Shepherds and Shepherdesses.

Cupid's entry.

Behold my arrows and my bow

and I desire my art to show:

no one bosom shall be found

ere I have done, without a wound,

but it would be the greatest art

to shoot myself into your heart;

thither with both my wings I move,

pray entertain the god of love.


Come, shepherds all, let's sing and play,

be willing, lovesome, fond and gay.


She who those soft hours misuses

and a begging swain refuses

where she would the time recover

may she have a feeble lover.


The best of the celestial pow'rs

is come to give us happy hours.


Oh, let him not from hence remove.


Till ev'ry bosom's full of love.


Courtiers, there is no faith in you,

you change as often as you can:

your women they continue true

but till they see another man.


Cupid hast thou many found

long in the same fetters bound?


At court I find constant and true

only an aged lord or two.


Who do their empire longest hold.


The foolish ugly and the old...

In these sweet groves love is not taught

beauty and pleasure is not bought;

to warm desires the women nature moves

and ev'ry youthful swain by nature loves...


In these sweet groves love is not taught


While this chorus is singing a Shepherd and Shepherdess dance to it.


Lovers to the close shades retire,

do what your kindest thoughts inspire.

(Exeunt omnes. The curtain closes.)

First Act
Single scene

The curtain opens and discovers Venus and Adonis sitting together upon a couch, embracing one another.

Act Tune.






Venus, when shall I taste soft delights

and on thy bosom lie?

Let's seek the shadiest covert of this grove

and never, never disappoint expecting love.


Adonis, thy delightful youth

is full of beauty and of truth.

With thee the queen of love employs

the hours design'd for softer joys.


My Venus still has something new

which forces lovers to be true.


Me my lovely youth shall find

always tender, ever kind.

Hunters' music.

(They rise from the couch when they hear the music.)


Hark, hark, the rural music sounds,

hark, hark the hunters, hark, hark the hounds!

They summon to the chase, haste haste away.


Adonis will not hunt today.

I have already caught the noblest prey.


No, my shepherd, haste away,

absence kindles new desire,

I would not have my lover tire...

My shepherd, will you know the art

by which I keep a conquer'd heart?

I seldom vex a lover's ears

with business or with jealous fears.

I give him freely all delights

with pleasant days and easy nights.


Yet there is a sort of men

who delight in heavy chains

upon whom ill-usage gains

and they never love till then.


Those are fools of mighty leisure

wise men love the easiest pleasure.

I give you freely all delights

with pleasant days and easy nights.


Adonis will not hunt today.


No, my shepherd, haste away.

Enter Huntsmen to Adonis, and sing this chorus.


Come follow, follow, follow,

come follow to the noblest game.

Here the spritely youth may purchase fame.


A mighty boar our spear and darts defies,

he foams and rages, see, see, he wounds

the stoutest of our Cretan hounds,

he roars like thunder and he lightens from his eyes.


You who the slothful joys of city hate

and, early up, for rougher pleasures wait,

next the delight which heav'nly beauty yields

nothing, oh nothing is so sweet

as for our huntsmen, that do meet

with able coursers and good hounds to range the fields.


Lachne has fastened first but she is old;

bring hither Ladon, he is strong and bold,

heigh Lachne, heigh Melampus; oh, they bleed,

your spears, your spears, Adonis thou shalt lead.

(Exeunt singing. Entry: a dance by a Huntsman. The curtain closes.)

Second Act
Single scene

The curtain opens and Venus and Cupid are seen standing with Little Cupids round about them.

Act Tune.


You place with such delightful care

the fetters which your lovers wear;

none can be weary to obey

when you their eager wishes bless,

(Cupid points to the Little Cupids)

the crowding Joys each other press

and round you smiling Cupids play.


Flattering boy, hast thou been reading

by which thou may'st set ableeding

a-thousand, thousand tender hearts?


Yes, but mother, teach me to destroy

all such as scorn your wanton boy.


Fit well your arrows when you strike

and choose for all what each may like.

But make some love, they know not why,

such as scorn Love's fire,

force them to admire.

The Cupid's lesson.

(The Little Cupids repeat their lesson after Cupid.)

The insolent, the arrogant,

the M-E-R-: Mer; C-E: Ce; N-A: Na; R-Y: Ry;

the mercenary, the vain and silly.

The jealous and uneasy, all such as tease ye...

choose for the formal fool

who scorns Love's mighty school,

one that delights in secret glances

and a great reader of romances.

For him that's faithless, wild and gay,

who with Love's pain does only play,

take some affected, wanton she,

as faithless and as wild as he.


The insolent, the arrogant,



But, Cupid, how shall I make Adonis constant still?

Use him very ill...

(Venus laughs)


...to play, my loves, to play;

Venus makes it holiday.

A dance of Cupids.

(After the dance the little Cupids play together at hide and seek and hot cockles till Cupid frightens them off the stage with a vizard mask, and then they come on again, peeping, when Cupid calls the Graces.)


Call, call the Graces.


Come, all ye Graces! 'Tis your duty

to keep the magazine of beauty.

Enter the Graces.


Mortals below, Cupids above,

sing the praises of the queen of love.

The world for that bright beauty dies;

sing the triumphs of her conqu'ring eyes.

Hark, ev'n nature sighs. This joyful night

she will beget desire and yield delight.

The Graces' dance.

(Gavotte. Saraband for the Graces. A ground.)

(While the Graces dance, the Cupids dress Venus, one combing her head, another ties a bracelet of pearls round her waist etc. After the dances the curtain closes upon them.)

Third Act
Single scene

The curtain opens and discovers Venus standing in a melancholy posture. A mourning Cupid goes across the stage and shakes an arrow at her.

Act Tune.


Adonis, uncall'd-for sighs

from my sad bosom rise,

and grief has the dominion of my eyes.

A mourning love passed by me now that sung

of tombs and urns and ev'ry mournful thing:

return, Adonis, 'tis for thee I grieve.

Venus leans against the side of the stage and weeps. Adonis is led in wounded.


I come, as fast as death will give me leave.

Behold the wound made by th' Aedalian boar;

faithful Adonis now must be no more.


Ah, blood and warm life his rosy cheeks forsake.

Alas, death's sleep thou art too young to take.

My groans shall reach the heav'ns; oh, pow'rs above

take pity on the wretched queen of love!


Oh, I could well endure the pointed dart,

did it not make the best of lovers part.


Ye cruel gods, why should not I

have the great privilege to die?


Love, mighty love, does my kind bosom fire;

shall I for want of vital heat expire?

No, no, warm life returns, and death's afraid

this heart (love's faithful kingdom) to invade.


No, the grim monster gains the day;

with thy warm blood life steals away.


I see fate calls; let me on your soft bosom lie.

There I did wish to live, and there I beg to die.

(Adonis dies.)


Ah, Adonis my love, ah, Adonis...

With solemn pomp let mourning Cupids bear

my soft Adonis through the yielding air...

He shall adorn the heav'ns, here I will weep

till I am fall'n into as cold a sleep.


Mourn for thy servant, mighty god of love,

weep for your huntsman, oh forsaken grove.

Mourn, Echo, mourn, thou shalt no more repeat

his tender sighs and vows when he did meet

with the wretched queen of love

in this forsaken grove.

End of the libretto.

Generazione pagina: 13/02/2016
Pagina: ridotto, rid
Versione H: 3.00.40 (D)

Locandina The Prologue Single scene First Act Single scene Second Act Single scene Third Act Single scene