Summer Oratorio 2024

The Judgment of Paris

Libretto: William Congreve
Music: John Weldon, one time Organist of New College, Oxford

Conductor: Luke Mitchell

New College Chapel
5 June 2024
8.00 pm

Tickets available from: Ticketsource

British (English) School; John Wheldon; Faculty of Music and Bate Collection of Musical Instruments;

Will Anderson
Mercury, messenger of the gods
John Johnston
Paris, a shepherd
Jemima Price
Juno, goddess of marriage 
Joanna Barrett
Pallas, goddess of war
Jessica Edgar
Venus, goddess of love

In 1700, a group of nobles put up a ‘Musick Prize’ by offering through the pages of the London Gazette of 18 March: First prize was 100 guineas, second 50, third 30, and fourth 20, and the task was to set a new libretto, a masque, The Judgment of Paris, written for the occasion by William Congreve. John Weldon was one of four known entrants, the others being John Eccles, Daniel Purcell and Gottfried Finger. The works were performed singly and then together on one evening when the competition was run; the Prize was won by Weldon, Organist of New College, Oxford, much to the chagrin of most involved, with vague accusations of incompetence and corruption circling around the decision.In the masque, Mercury appears to the Shepherd Paris with the Golden Apple of Discord and asks him to award it to the Goddess for whom he has the most regard. The goddesses – Juno, Pallas, and Venus – all sing to him, presenting a future in each of their respective spheres, worldly power, war, and beauty. Pallas, seduced by Venus, awards it to her.