Henry Purcell’s “King Arthur” arrives at the Berlin Staatsoper on Sunday Jan. 15 in a run that has already reportedly sold out.
According to the official website of the Staatsoper, all five runs of the production have no remaining tickets for those interested in witnessing the performance.
The opera, written by librettist John Dryden, is rather unique in its construction. Rather than focus on the Arthurian myths that have dominated Western culture for centuries, this work focuses on the King trying to win back his beloved Emmeline from a Saxon King, with the political battles between Britons and Saxons dominating the proceedings.
There are supernatural forces at work and they are the only ones that actually get to sing. The main characters mainly interact through spoken dialogue, a feature that is rare in most opera thereafter.
The premiere of the work is unknown though it is estimated that it bowed in June 1691 and has held the stage intermittently since then.
The cast includes Anett Fritsch, Robin Johannsen, Benno Schachtner, Mark Milhofer, Stephan Rügamer, Hans-Michael Rehberg, Max Urlacher, Axel Wandtke, Oliver Stokoswski, Tom Radish, Meike Droste and Sigrid Maria Schnückel alongisde Michael Rotschopf in the title role.
The opera will be sung in English, though German subtitles will be available to audience members.
Each performance will feature a 45 minute pre-performance lecture led by Dr. Detlef Giese.
There are a few notable recordings led by major proponents of Baroque music. There is a 1985 recording by John Eliot Gardiner, one from 1995 led by William Christie and a DVD performance from 2005 with Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the helm.
The first ever recording of the work came in 1958 under Sir Anthony Lewis.