Purcell: King Arthur (DVD) – René Jacobs

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Purcell: King Arthur (DVD) – René Jacobs

Composer: Henry Purcell
Artists: Anett Fritsch, Robin Johanssen, Benno Schachtner, Mark Milhofer, Stephan Rügamer, Arttu Kataja, Johannes Weisser, Cast of Actors, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Choir of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Dancers of the Skills Ensemble
Conductor: René Jacobs
Directors: Sven-Eric Bechtolf, Julian Crouch
Format: NTSC
Language: English (sung), German (dialogue)
Subtitles: English, German, French, Japanese, Korean
Region: All Regions
Number of Discs: 1
Studio: Naxos
DVD Release Date: April 24, 2020
Run Time: 170 minutes

The collaboration of the poet John Dryden and Hendry Purcell marked a conspicuous leap forward for English opera. Their greatest project, King Arthur, is a five-act “dramatick opera,” the text of which had its origins in a patriotic musical play Dryden had written in 1684 but which he radically overhauled. The result was a work that appealed to the audience’s enthusiasm for fine costumes, lavish sets, ingenious stage machinery and a cast of singers, dancers and instrumentalists, containing vocal show-stoppers such as the imperishable “Frost Scene” and “Fairest Isle.” This critically acclaimed staging uses a new performing edition by René Jacobs and is sung in English with German dialogue.

Bachtrack.com greatly admired this 2017 performance:

“The singing cast – all of [whom] played up to six parts each – were strong throughout. Soprano Anett Fritsch marveled as Merlin’s trusty spirit Philidel and Cupido, her coloratura agile and light, her singing and speaking impressive both on stage and whilst airborne. Bass Johannes Weisser played a suitably repulsive Grimbald and convinced vocally in [his] Cold Genius staccato aria ‘What Ho,’ and soprano Robin Johannsen and [countertenor] Benno Schachtner delighted particularly during their touching love duet.”

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