On Friday night, February 13, a representation of the opera “King Arthur” created in 1691 by Henry Purcell, was held by the BarokOpera Amsterdam. It is a "semi-opera", a specific kind of opera developed by British composers in the late seventeenth century. The action was led by the actors’ play and commented by music. 

    I was very curious to find out what that semi-opera was holding in store for me. An accurate depiction of the original story of King Arthur? (And what I mean is not a completely historical reconstruction): one could expect anything.

    So, five artists are on stage, often together, and tell us the misadventures that cross Arthur, Christian and Breton to find Emmeline, the machinations of King Oswald, Pagan and Saxon. Their rivalry extends between Merlin the magician and the magician Osmond, who use their magic to help each king. The play keeps the original texts and the music is valued by being played with baroque instruments. 

    What struck me first was...The actors!

    I was very impressed and found their performance tremendous. Moreover, their voices are powerful and catchy. Furthermore they mix quite well. The actors provide them five different roles and even go as far as changing roles in the play. Then, a garment or a hat allows us to distinguish them. Indeed, the costumes are a bit minimalist but we can see this as an assumed simplicity that truly takes advantage of the staging and their acting. They are very much emphasized and it is pleasant!

     In addition, the decor is pretty sleek. Indeed, the musicians are placed on the side garden of the scene; some chairs are assembled side Court for the actors and the necessary accessories to representation from a safe in the middle of the scene. 

    Frederique Chauvet, musical director, wrote: "We selected fine fragments of the original play King Arthur whose modernity has often been forgotten”. The play is synthesized to give an undeniable dynamism. Thereby, it presents itself as a modern representation; with heroic passages, yes, but mostly bold and full of humors, Shakespearian, absolutely surprising!”

    It is a refreshing play that seduces us with a typical English humor and an original theatrical style, the "transparent acting". As explained by the director, Sybrand van der Werf, "the actor or singer performs his character while remaining visible himself as an individual." It creates grotesque situations, burlesque and extremely funny. 

    To sum up in one word, it was great!  

    A student from 1 S Euro. 

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