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Marc-Antoine Charpentier: David & Jonathas
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First performed in 1688, a year after the death of Lully, David et Jonathas, a "Biblical tragedy in five acts with a prologue" is based on the friendship between David - slayer of Goliath - and Jonathas, son of King Saul. The difficulty with adapting this work to a stage production is similar to the nature of attempting to stage Handel's religious oratorios, the libretto by Père François de Paule Bretonneau in this case making it somewhat difficult to grasp a clear dramatic or narrative thread. Another reason why the work may be difficult to follow was that it was originally written to be performed as musical interludes inserted into a performance of the theatrical drama Saul. The Aix production does its best to create some dramatic situations out of this Biblical story by adding flashback scenes during what would have been musical ballet sequences to fill out the background of the characters as well as the historical conflicts that have shaped them.Read more ›
Sadly, however, you don't get a genuine idea of how amazing the production really is from this DVD, which is horribly shot and edited. Two of the most powerful scenes between David and Jonathas are all but ruined by inexplicable editing gaffes (in the first) and cheesy and unnecessary slow-motion (in the second). The scene where Saul consults the Witch of Endor, the highlight of the opera in the live production, is filmed and edited in such a way that it's difficult to get a sense of how the scene is arranged and the disturbing effectiveness is largely lost.
The DVD I have is a pre-release version sold at BAM during the production's run in New York. I suppose I can always hold out hope that the commercial release was re-edited and the worst of the damage mitigated, but I'm not holding my breath. Buy it anyway, because it will at least give you a vague idea of what this remarkable production looked like, but be prepared to cringe a lot. And watch the final scene on YouTube, where it's presented without the clumsy special-effects distractions.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The background gets a little old, but it's an interesting idea.
Pascal Charbonneau is extraordinary. I've come to be happy with just one outstanding singer. Read more
This is an incredibly poignant love story set to incredibly beautiful music, which overwhelms any infelicities of the production, which at times was inexplicable (at least to my... Read morePublished on May 23, 2013 by Mark M