* Notes *
Henry Purcell's King Arthur or The British Worthy is not an opera in the usual sense, as the main characters do not sing. The Mark Morris Dance Group production had its American premiere in Berkeley last Saturday, and all of Dryden's spoken dialogue is cut, meaning King Arthur himself never appears as such and basically there is no plot. The production also features the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under the direction of Jane Glover, the UC Chamber Chorus, and seven English National Opera singers as principals.
At times Morris' choreography is pat, simply miming the text, and worse yet was the absurd simulated sex at the end of Act II between shepherds and shepherdesses. There were many delightful moments also, especially the maypole dance in Act V. The dancers were all competent and utterly nonplussed by going through doors that lead nowhere dressed as giraffes or ducks or Bavarians as the case might be.
The singing was fairly consistent as well. Iestyn Davies shows much promise as a countertenor, his voice has good volume and is quite clear. Soprano Mhairi Lawson was perhaps least impressive, she wasn't bad by any means, but her voice is not especially pretty.
* Tattling *
The people in Row Q all shifted over from the side to the center, and subsequently, the man directly in front of me fell asleep for most of the first two acts. He woke up when the audience was laughing at the depraved bits of choreography. At least he and his companion had the good sense to leave the theatre at the intermission.