Magazine article Opera Canada

King Arthur; Left to Right: Barbara Bonney, Isabel Rey, Birgit Remmert and Michael Schade in the Salzburg Festival Production

Magazine article Opera Canada

King Arthur; Left to Right: Barbara Bonney, Isabel Rey, Birgit Remmert and Michael Schade in the Salzburg Festival Production

Article excerpt

You had to be a little concerned when the Salzburg Festival announced it would be staging Purcell's King Arthur. After all, Salzburg doesn't specialize in Baroque repertoire--at least, not like Rene Jacobs' neighboring Innsbruck Alte Musik Festival. But any lingering questions became quite academic on a Sunday afternoon in August at the Felsenreitschule. Jurgen Flimm's multi-media production was a feast to the eyes and ears.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Nikolaus Harnoncourt's Concentus Musicus Wien was placed in an oval depression in the centre of a round wooden stage painted blue with splashes of other colors. The action took place around them, in front of them, behind them and above them. Thanks to some Baroque flying equipment, Merlin, Philidel and others floated in the air. A trap door allowed Oswald to enter and exit from a smoky underworld. A camcorder enlarged the actors' faces on a "cloud" suspended from the ceiling. Film fragments were projected onto the 96 stone-hewn arcades of the arena. There were stylized dance sequences, pinwheels, artificial snow, pixie dust and a cannon blast. The 600 costumes included military greatcoats, ball gowns, penguin suits (yes, the Vienna State Opera Chorus was dressed as penguins for the Frost scene), Hawaiian shirts, bikinis, neon halos and cotton-ball angel's wings, and the topless attire of the three "sacrificial" maidens. …

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