Friday, March 07, 2008

King Arthur

photo: Carol Rosegg

One of the most joyful and entertaining shows in town right now is at City Opera, where director/dance genius Mark Morris has taken Purcell's 17th century music for King Arthur, thrown out all the dialogue, sent the singing chorus out of sight to the orchestra pit, and put his wonderful dance troupe on stage with the principal singers. Now more a cheeky modern dance program set to Purcell's lovely music than a comprehensible production of the piece, the dancers outnumber the singers. But the witty and repeatedly surprising show has a lot of fun integrating the modern dancers and the classical opera singers on the same stage, and it is hard to imagine anyone but the most diehard purists having a problem with this: the music, under Jane Glover's baton, is respectfully and gorgeously rendered and the dancing, to put it mildly, brings a visual excitement and a fresh attitude not usually associated with Baroque opera. (Said fresh attitude extends to a few brief, unabashedly bawdy moments including mimed guy-on-guy oral: this isn't your Grandad's production of King Arthur!) Morris doesn't run out of ideas - there are new ones at every turn, and you leave not only delighted by the music but tickled by the production's cheerful playfulness and its high spirits.

I've posted about this before when I saw La Boheme last year but it's worth repeating: thanks to their new Opera For All program, a number of Orchestra seats can be had at City Opera for $25. The week's discounted tickets go on sale each Monday morning of the season, and yes, they can be purchased online.

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