One of the most stirring tales of chivalry is that of King Arthur and his Round Table. It is a story with the power to engage the listener, thrill the theatregoer and delight the opera lover. And now this legendary hero becomes the focus of an entirely new theatrical conglomerate, when those two great cultural institutions (and Dresden neighbours), the Staatsschauspiel and the Semperoper, join creative forces.
The opinion of the 17th century playwright Peter Motteux that »the English mind is such that it cannot bear continuous singing« is reflected in this semi opera by Henry Purcell and John Dryden, a unique symbiosis of music theatre, drama and visual spectacle. Premiered in 1691 in London’s Dorset Garden, at the time the most magnificent theatre in the whole of England, Purcell sends his titular hero, »King Arthur«, to do battle against Oswald, King of the Saxons. Rivals for the hand of Princess Emmeline of Cornwall, the two monarchs are magically assisted in their struggle by some old acquaintances. At Arthur’s side is his trusted counsellor Merlin, while Oswald can count on the support of the magician Osmund, the »earthy spirit« Grimbald and – at least initially – the »airy spirit« Philidel, all of whom make use of supernatural powers to gain control over Emmeline. The magical nature of the plot is underlined by a bewitching score that even today still has the power to captivate theatregoers and opera lovers alike.
A semi opera by Henry Purcell / John Dryden, Prologue and epilogue by Armin Petras Performed in German and English
Running time 3 hours 15 minutes