Mark Morris’s Fête Galante

Charles T. Downey for IONARTS

We try to catch every visit by the Mark Morris Dance Group, as we have done in 2010, 2009, and 2008, but there were few of the American choreographer's works we more wanted to see than L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato, experienced last night at the Kennedy Center Opera House. An exuberant translation into movement of Handel's oratorio L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato, the work was one of the first successes of Morris's sometimes rocky tenure at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels. Handel's music, heard in concert from Opera Lafayette two years ago, is set to a libretto by Charles Jennens. Quite similar to his Messiah, it is a mash-up of existing poetry, bringing together two opposing poems by Milton, L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, opposing the two characters of happiness and melancholy and reconciling them with a third allegorical voice, that of moderation, Il Moderato, with poetry written by Jennens.