Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Arthur Based on King Arthur by Henry Purcell

King Arthur is one of Henry Purcell’s five semi-operas, stage plays with musical parts. Librettist John Dryden had initially written King Arthur for the 25th anniversary of the Restoration in 1684. However, King Charles preferred a French opera. Dryden’s libretto, which provided “Scenes, Machines, Songs and Dances” was pushed aside. Inspired by Purcell’s music for Dioclesian, Dryden rewrote his libretto in 1690 and asked Purcell to compose music for it for orchestra, choir and soloists. 
King Arthur tells the tale of the conflict between the British King Arthur and his enemy Oswald, King of the Saxons. It is a battle not only of good and evil for the control over the empire, but also for the hand of the beautiful and blind Emmeline.Dryden always suggested that King Arthur is a political allegory. The exact meaning, however, can no longer be established.0
At the request of KlaraFestival, the Dutch director Paul Koek and the Belgian author laureate Peter Verhulst transposed the myth of King Arthur to our time. A hundred years after the beginning of World War I, they offer us, through their Arthur, a view of the battlefield when it is all over. As yet, only the buzzing of a fly can be heard and the first plants are cautiously peeping up from the ground. In the land that was previously so flat and that is now suddenly strewn with hills and ponds full of water that was hidden under ground, two women are walking accompanied by a child. One of them is blind and looking for her husband who came from Africa to Flanders to fight in an incomprehensible war.  The other one is looking for her country as she knew it but which can no longer be found. Meanwhile the young Arthur is doing what all boys his age do, he’s fantasising about heroism and courage and craving the victor’s pleasure.
The music and songs from Purcell’s King Arthur gives this horror and emotional depth. A glimpse of beauty and hope shines through the darkness.


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