This short documentary covers the background to the Mark Morris version of Handel’s setting of Milton’s poems in in his "L’Allegro, Il Penseroso, and Il Moderato." It provides the historical context to the creation of the balletic work and a broader coverage of the whole from which the previous brief extract was taken. One of the points that emerges about Milton’s "L’Allegro" is that, for Morris, the joyful experiences it celebrates are communal activities, not the solitary satisfactions of "Il Penseroso." This social concept of happiness suits both Handel’s music and the community character of the Morris’ troupe’s productions.
This excerpt from the documentary Milton by Himself, illustrates the significant early phases of his biography, mostly using his own words. It covers his family and its locations, his studies at Cambridge University and his travels throughout Europe. His later experiences emerge through other videos in this gallery and in the various images in the photographic gallery of this site. The full video is distributed as a DVD by Films for the Humanities. It is followed by the full recording of a staging of Paradise Lost at UCB. Thereafter follow videos related to other performances of Milton's works.
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, U.C. Press, 1974, pp. 57-65).
John Milton's Paradise Lost as Drama, Part 8: Eve's temptation continues.
John Milton, Paradise Lost as Drama, Part 6: Raphael continues his exposition to Adam and Eve.
John Milton's Paradise Lost as Drama, Section 5: Adam and Eve explore their situation, with Raphael's help.
John Milton's Paradise Lost as Drama, Section 4: A despairing Satan progresses towards Paradise despite the guardian angels and begins his assault on the innocence of Adam and Eve, but under the watchful eyes of God and his Son, who prepare counter moves.
John Milton's Drama of Paradise Lost: Section 3: Satan manipulates his cohorts into assigning to him the heroic role of subverting Earth, God's newest creation. On his way he meets his lover, Sin, and his son by her, Death, and he converts them to his cause against God.