Writer: Marc-Antoine Charpentier with a libretto by Francois de Paule Bretonneau
Director: Andreas Homoki
Conductor: William Christie
Reviewer: Jonathan Goat
With David et Jonathas the legendary William Christie and Les Arts Florissants may have just just delivered this year’s Festival’s finest act. Their production of Charpentier’s groundbreaking opera is nothing less than a complete success.
William Christie is well known as an authority on this music. It is a joy to see him in the pit working the baroque aesthetic into an even and clean emotional hit. In the hands of such adepts as Les Arts Florissants you can really hear the genius of this sound world. It never tricks you or attempts to woo you into false emotion; instead the subtlety provided by the framework and the composer’s deviations from it act like rational arguments that pack more of a wallop than the loudest of modernists.
All of this was focused by Andreas Homoki’s intelligent production. The bare pine wood set allowed the delicate drama of the music to tell its own story, backed up by intense and involving performances from the cast. His re-imagining of the myth worked particularly well: a telling in which Saul’s failure to deal with the death of his wife made him focus the anger and pain upon David, his adopted son. But this was only the surface: the production explored the deadly conflict between old age with all its regrets, fears and neurosis’, and the deadly effect this can have on this joyful innocence of youth and youthful love. It seemed a wonderful interpretation of the meaning of Charpentier’s music: a surface of glory and pomp that conceals a world of discord and complexity.
Runs until 20th August