Purcell's King Arthur

Sven-Eric Bechtolf (stage director), René Jacobs (conductor) — With Annett Fritsch, Robin Johannsen, Benno Schachtner...

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Sven-Eric Bechtolf — Stage director

Julian Crouch — Set designer, co-stage director

Gail Skrela — Choreographer

Kevin Pollard — Costume designer

Olaf Freese — Lighting

Joshua Higgason — Video

Detlef Giese — Dramaturgy

Annett Fritsch — Soprano

Robin Johannsen — Soprano

Benno Schachtner — Countertenor

Mark Milhofer — Tenor

Stephan Rügamer — Tenor

Arttu Kataja — Baritone

Johannes Weisser — Baritone

Staatsopernchor Berlin

Martin Wright — Chorus Master

Program notes

What does Henry Purcell (1659–1695) mean by “dramatick opera,” the description of his King Arthur, or The British Worthy? Conductor René Jacobs—Baroque specialist and connoisseur since his beginnings as a countertenor in the 1970s—makes it clear in a new production of the masterwork, staged by the brilliant Sven-Eric Bechtolf, which cleverly adapts the original dialogues that animated the hybrid music-theatre form in 17th-century England.

This version of the 1691 semi-opera puts a refreshing twist on the story of King Arthur, transposing the action to World War II-era England where politics and history blend with satire and fantasy to create a fascinating and polished final product. The expressive force, breathtaking variety, and inexhaustible beauty of Purcell’s score are rounded out by fragments of different works by Purcell and others, often accompanying the reshaped spoken dialogues in an almost cinematic style; the spellbinding music, coupled with magnetic stage performances, dazzling sets and costumes, panoramic video projections, and even puppets, make this a compelling interpretation of a timeless classic you'll want to watch again and again!

A closer look: composers and works

More info