David et Jonathas, Festival Theatre, Mon 20 Aug (4 stars)

This article is from 2012

David et Jonathas, Festival Theatre, Mon 20 Aug

Psychological complexities of OT story brought to the fore in Andreas Homoki's musical feast of a production

Musically, Les Arts FlorissantsDavid et Jonathas is a feast. French Baroque opera at its finest, Charpentier’s moving retelling of the biblical tragedy about two men who love each other - however that might be interpreted – is rooted in the most wonderfully vibrant music. Under the baton of founder conductor William Christie, his period instrument orchestra’s performance is unparalleled in this genre of music. As to Andreas Homoki’s production, things are harder to fathom. Set inside a stripped pine wooden box that contracts, expands and sub-divides frequently, for the most part it works because it is so startlingly different from the music and, as a result, shifts more focus onto Charpentier’s score.

The psychological complexities of the Old Testament story, for instance, King Saul’s jealousy of David’s relationship with his son, Jonathan, or what Saul is going through when his wife dies, are played out within the box, its walls often bearing in on the main protagonists as the embodiment of the mental pressure they face. All the principal characters sing and act superbly, Pascal Charbonneau as David, Ana Quintans in the (short) trouser role as Jonathan and Neal Davies singing Saul being particularly strong.

Festival Theatre, run now ended.

David et Jonathas

  • 4 stars

David et Jonathas is one of Charpentier’s most dramatic stage works, full of stirring music and passionate arias that convey its achingly poignant story of love, jealousy, witchcraft and war. Conductor William Christie and his exceptional period ensemble, Les Arts Florissants, have a reputation second to none for…