THE CREATIVE TIMELINE
1631 - John Milton publishes "L'Allegro" and "Il Penseroso", paired poems which depict opposing but complementary states of mind – L’Allegro is the active or cheerful mind, Il Penseroso is the melancholic or contemplative mind.
1740 - George Frideric Handel and his librettist Charles Jennens adapt these poems to create a dialogue between them and add a third part, "Il Moderato," representing the voice of moderation and reason.
1816 - William Blake creates 12 watercolors to illustrate Milton's poems. Each design is accompanied by a separate inscribed sheet on which Blake wrote, in his own hand, a brief title and quotations of the lines illustrated, to which Blake added his own comments on the motifs pictured.
1988 - Mark Morris, inspired by and drawing upon each of his predecessors, creates L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato for his company of 24 dancers, the Monnaie orchestra and chorus and five vocal soloists – the most ambitious piece at that point in his career.
LISTEN to BBC interview from Wed Apr 14, 2011 (segment begins at :32min)
The Lark is an Angel on the Wing, Dull Night starts from his
Watch Tower on a Cloud. The Dawn with her Dappled
Horses arises above the Earth. The Earth beneath awakes
at the Lark's Voice.
(Illustration by William Blake, The Morgan Library & Museum, used with permission)