William Boyce's erotic oratorio receives rare London performance

13 June 2014, 12:11 | Updated: 13 June 2014, 13:11

A William Boyce oratorio that had to be toned down for Victorian audiences because it was too rude has received a rare London performance from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

The 18th-century oratorio, Solomon, was performed regularly in its day, but it fell out of favour with Victorian audiences due to some of the more risqué elements of its text.

Lines such as, "Thy breasts are like the clust’ring grape", and aria titles like "O take me! Stamp on my breast!" were deemed too rude and eventually sanitised by Thomas Bowdler. 

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Conductor Stephen Devine told the Evening Standard: "Unlike many baroque composers Boyce had a particularly keen eye to the sales. Solomon was written ... to please his audience."

Solomon concerns the conversations of a young man and woman as they fall in love.

Though Solomon was a popular piece in its day, William Boyce was better known for his eight symphonies. He was also appointed Master of the King's Music in 1755.