Publisher: Novello & Co
The Tongue of Epigrams (1998)
Commissioned by James Bowman and the New Chamber Opera
Ben Jonson (1573-1637)
Novello & Co Ltd
Solo Voice(s) and up to 6 players
Often cited as the first Poet Laureate (the position didn’t become a royal office until 1668 when John Dryden assumed the post), Ben Jonson (1572 – 1637) wrote one hundred and thirty three epigrams. Of these, there are few that don’t require at least some background reading to make sense of the political and social witticism contained in his tightly constructed quips. In the eight epigrams I have chosen for this semi-theatrical cycle, however, Jonson’s merriment relies heavily on age-old subjects of mirth: the adulterous, the powerful and the obscene.