La Monnaie ¦ 2014-2015 season ¦ Arthur ¦ Intro
based on King Arthur by Henry Purcell
Just as white is a mixture of all the colours, silence consists of everything that no longer exists. In memory of the outbreak of the First World War one-hundred years ago, director Paul Koek of the music theater company de Veenfabriek and author Peter Verhelst visualize the battlefield when everything is over. When only the buzzing of a fly is still to be heard and the first plants cautiously poke their heads out of the ground again. Two women accompanied by a child walk through the uncannily altered, flat land that suddenly boasts previously non-existent hills and ponds full of water which had been concealed underground. One of the women is looking for her husband who came here from far-flung Africa to fight in an incomprehensible war. The other is looking for her country as she knew it, but which is no more. While the young Arthur does what every boy does: fantasize about heroism and courage and long for the joy of victory, until he knows better.
This music theatre production is based on King Arthur, Henry Purcell’s famous semi-opera in five acts, supplemented with the work of various contemporaries, that brings together theatre, dance and opera to give pride of place to love and the motherland. The original libretto by the English poet, John Dryden, tells of the quest of Arthur, king of the Britons, to rescue his fiancée, the princess Emmeline, abducted by his sworn enemy, Oswald, king of the Saxons. Our great Belgian novelist and poet, Peter Verhelst, has brought this passionate warrior’s legend up-to-date and re-written the spoken parts, injecting the plot with the originality of his own colourful imagination. Moreover, this production will be part of the commemoration to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War. There can be no doubt that this modern rewriting, carried by the musical energy of the Ghent orchestra, B’Rock, will revive the political impact and theatrical strength of Purcell’s masterpiece.
© Bowie Verschuuren