Judgment of Paris 1701

filmed in Basel, May 2019

London, 1700...

...a small group of affluent gentlemen devised a contest to stimulate public interest in English-language opera. They put a notice in the London Gazette promising to award prizes for the four best musical settings of William Congreve's new libretto, The Judgment of Paris. Four composers submitted operas: Daniel Purcell, John Eccles, John Weldon (the winner!), and Gottfried Finger (whose score is lost). In 1701, each opera was performed; the audiences voted for their favorite. Our production is a pastiche of the three surviving operas.
The libretto Congreve wrote for the contest is about a contest: The Judgment of Paris is the Greek myth in which Paris awards a golden apple to the most beautiful goddess: Athena, Juno, or Venus.
During this period of theater, libretti were rife with libidinous innuendo and ribald comedy. For our production, we siezed on one of Paris' lines at the end of the first act,

And since a gay robe an ill shape may disguise,
when each is undress'd I'll judge of the best,
for 'tis not the face that must carry the prize!

We accepted Paris' suggestion and have made this divine beauty pageant into a farcical burlesque romp---replete with pasties, whips, and lingerie---true to the irreverant humor of Restoration English theater while preserving the baroque beauty of the original compositions.

Matthias Klenota Viloin

Vadim Makarenko Viloin

Thomas Chigioni Cello

Katharina Haun Viloin

Andreas Westermann Viloin

Michael Shaw Paris

Amber Youell Mercury, Juno

Brett Umlauf Athena

Brittany Palmer Venus

Noah Arjomand Camera