Magazine article Opera Canada

King Arthur: Purcell

Magazine article Opera Canada

King Arthur: Purcell

Article excerpt



Rey, Bonney, Remmert, Schade, Widmer. Concentus Musicus Wien and Wiener Staatsopernchor with Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Jurgen Flimm, stage director; Hannes Rossacher, video director

Subtitles: English, French, German

EuroArts 2054508 (2 DVDs/169 minutes)

If any production deserved to be called over-produced, it must surely be this zany, manic presentation of Henry Purcell's King Arthur from the 2004 Salzburg Festival. As a production, it goes a long way in proving Malcolm Muggeridge's contention that "Good taste and humor are a contradiction in terms--like a chaste whore."


What passes for humor in this Jurgen Flimm hodgepodge--starring, amongst others, American soprano Barbara Bonney and Canadian tenor Michael Schade--is both tedious and puerile. Granted, there are certain whimsical elements, such as Merlin's aerial descent on a windsurfing board (a modern variant of a Baroque flying machine), but such touches are few and far between in an otherwise interminable exercise in directorial hubris.

Although Purcell (1659-1695) composed only one opera (Dido and Aeneas), he did collaborate on a number of theatrical hybrids known as semi-operas (in essence, a play with incidental music). …

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