CriticalDance Forum

Mark Morris's "King Arthur"
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Author:  kurinuku [ Sun Jul 02, 2006 6:38 am ]
Post subject:  Mark Morris's "King Arthur"

King Arthur
by TOM SERVICE for the Guardian

Mark Morris's new production of Purcell's King Arthur for English National Opera takes a radical view of this "semi-opera". His staging ditches all the spoken dialogue, written by John Dryden, leaving us with the glories of Purcell's music, and creating what Morris describes as a "a pageant - a sort of vaudeville". It's an entertainment in which the joyous energy of the Mark Morris Dance Group is as important as the roles taken by the singers.

published: June 28, 2006

Author:  kurinuku [ Sun Jul 02, 2006 1:19 pm ]
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No Saxons please, we're British
by LUKE JENNINGS for the Observer

The jewels of music, song and dance remain and Morris locates these in a whimsical Merrie England dreamworld, half Forest of Arden, half repertory company rehearsal-room. The costumes, by Isaac Mizrahi , are out of a green room trunk and Adrienne Lobel's set consists principally of curtains, variously red, ruched and glittery.

published: July 2, 2006

Author:  kurinuku [ Sun Jul 02, 2006 1:36 pm ]
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A tongue lurking in every cheek
by JENNY GILBER for the Independent

Enter Morris, heretic-in-chief and rogue outsider with the outsider's peculiarly astute take on the heart and soul of England. Englishness, as he sees it, is about muddle and making do, about stiff little ceremonies and village hall am dram and sturdy sopranos leading patriotic choruses. His version of Britannia's realm is a social and moral landscape that dithers between Puritanism and appetite, manners and mayhem; a culture that can maintain a tradition of rugged written poetry at the same time as a fertility rite that has grown men skipping round a pole flapping ribbons.

published: July 2, 2006

Author:  kurinuku [ Mon Jul 10, 2006 4:46 am ]
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The emperor's new clothes
by MICHELE HANSON for the Guardian

Last week I went to the opera to see Purcell's King Arthur. I was hoping for an uplifting evening of exquisite music from the most brilliant of all English composers - and just a few brief hours of escape from this crap century. Silly me, I had ignored Rosemary's warning that this was a hip production in modern dress accompanied by American ballet.

published: July 10, 2006

Author:  LMCtech [ Mon Oct 02, 2006 11:54 am ]
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Review from the SF Chronicle. I really wanted to see this being a fan of both Morris and baroque opera (I know, I'm weird), but The Husband is performing at the same time and he takes precedence.

Mark Morris keeps tastiest morsels of 'King Arthur' to cook up vibrant theatrical stew of song and dance

Joshua Kosman, Chronicle Music Critic

Monday, October 2, 2006

Henry Purcell's "King Arthur" is one of those problem works that no one knows quite what to do with, a collection of brilliantly inventive musical numbers wedded to an endless and indigestible play by John Dryden.

Well, problem works hold no terror for Mark Morris.

In his sassy, bumptious new version of Purcell's 1691 "semi-opera," which had its U.S. premiere Saturday in Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall, the visionary choreographer-director seems to have taken inspiration from the title of another of Purcell's theatrical scores, "The Gordian Knot Unty'd." He solves the problem of "King Arthur" by simply slicing the piece in two.


Author:  LMCtech [ Mon Oct 02, 2006 12:12 pm ]
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Another review from the Contra Costa Times.

Slimmed down 'Arthur' reigns
A gleeful panorama of knights and sprites infuses the 17th century Baroque with colorful enthusiasm and creative fun
By Georgia Rowe

If Mark Morris lived in a previous life, it was probably as Merlin the magician. Simply put, the man is a wizard.

Who else could have taken "King Arthur," Henry Purcell's overstuffed Baroque opera, and transformed it into compact, moving and irresistibly funny entertainment for the 21st century?

"King Arthur" arrived at Zellerbach Hall on Saturday night, and it's a triumph. Opera lovers, dance fans and anyone else who enjoys an exhilarating evening in the theater will love the English National Opera staging, which was directed and choreographed by Morris and had its first performances in London in June.


Author:  LMCtech [ Tue Oct 03, 2006 11:39 am ]
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Another review, this one from the Oakland Tribune.

With Morris at helm, 'King Arthur' nothing but fun
By Stephanie von Buchau, CONTRIBUTOR

SURELY choreographer-director Mark Morris, who is just about to turn 50 and whose Mark Morris Dance Group celebrates its 25th anniversary this season, is no longer the "bad boy" of dance?

Or so one would think, until settling into a seat at Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall Saturday for the American premiere of "King Arthur," staged by Morris, only to read, "I chose to discard the spoken text (which I don't like) and keep all the music (which I do)."

The spoken text of this 1691 "semi-opera" is by John Dryden, one of England's greatest poets. It's a long play, not about "Camelot," but a kind of nature allegory popular in the 17th century, with stage business, lavish sets and costumes and, oh yes, music.


Author:  Cassandra [ Thu Oct 05, 2006 8:22 am ]
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The opera and dance critics seemed to have rather opposing views on this work. I'm not surprised as for me it didn't work as an opera at all. Viewing it simply as a dance work though was a different matter as he has taken an opera and transformed it into a ballet. I found it diffucult to follow though and couldn't work out which character was which. I also regretted the cutting of the Dryden text.

Author:  LMCtech [ Thu Oct 05, 2006 12:24 pm ]
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I also fine opera critics to be a rather stuffy conservative crowd. I could see how this "opera" would not appeal to them.

Another review from the San Jose Mercury News.

Morris frees a stuffy `Arthur'
By Richard Scheinin
Mercury News

Mark Morris' reinvention of ``King Arthur,'' the 315-year-old ``semi-opera'' by Henry Purcell, is a work of happy genius.

It is a charmer -- fanciful and all sexed-up in order to send up the original historical tale, dumped by Morris in favor of a vaudevillian pageant that crowds the stage with singers and dancers in gold lamé and lingerie. As choreographer and director, Morris literally undresses ``Arthur'' to reveal -- here's the paradox -- the joyful and erotic soul of the Baroque.

``King Arthur,'' which made its debut at the English National Opera in June, is having its U.S. premiere at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, courtesy of Cal Performances, the director's own Mark Morris Dance Group and the San Francisco-based Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, conducted by Jane Glover, a smart and stylish interpreter of 17th-century music. I attended Tuesday's performance, the second, and recommend that you brave traffic to see one of the remaining three, starting tonight.


Author:  bcx [ Sun Oct 08, 2006 9:27 pm ]
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I saw Friday night's performance of Mark Morris's production of Purcell's "King Arthur." Purcell's very danceable music, was beautifully played by Philharmonia Baroque and sung by spirited young artists of the English National Opera and the UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus. Mark Morris's dancers were an absolute pleasure in their fluid, expressive movement.

Earlier in the day, at a round table discussion by UC Berkeley scholars on the treatment of King Arthur in legend and in music, Professor Davitt Moroney, an English musicologist and authority on Purcell, and the University Organist, said that as a scholar and performer of music, he listens to music in a very particular way; and when he saw how Mark Morris choreographed Purcell he was struck by the fact that Morris listens to music in the same way as a professional musician, and makes "close listening" visible. Professor Maura Nolan, a scholar of medieval and Renaissance literature, pointed out that Morris's production elements have their roots in medieval performance styles, including the use of anachronism, a characteristic feature of medieval performance. But as Joe Bowie, the Mark Morris Dance Group's rehearsal director for this production, pointed out, Mark is above all an entertainer. But he entertains with enormous awareness—and a great sense of fun. I thought it was a wonderful production.

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