Purcell's King Arthur
But in one way Purcell is a finer stager than Wagner: his music is full of movement, of dance. His is the easiest music in all the world to act. Only those can realize fully the truth of this who have experienced the joy of moving to Purcell's music, whether in the ballroom, or on the stage or in the garden; but especially in the garden.
I went to a presenation of Cal Perfomances and the Mark Morris Dance Group of Henry Purcell's King Arthur last Saturday evening. Funny, I used to own a recording of this work a long time ago and didn't remember the work. Saturday's presentation, however, was quite authentic and satisfying. The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra handled the music flawlessly, as did the singers and the Univeristy Chorus. The great treat of the night was observing how the whole mise en scene came together so well, and everything was so integrated into one spectacular performance.
I know nothing of choreography, but Morris' presentation really worked for me, combining more classical styles with modernity and quite a bit of satire in between. Good Christians should be warned that the presentation does get a bit lewd, but that is to be expected. The setting and props were all modern, but they worked very well too. I suppose since the presentation stripped away all the spoken dialogue, the more modern aspects did not seem so out of place in the midst of Purcell's lush score.
This work plays through Saturday, October 8th at Zellerbach Hall here in Berkeley. Go here for more information.