KÖNIG ARTHUR (KING ARTHUR) - Theater Basel - Schedule
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Premiere Schedule Ensemble


Premiere Schedule Ensemble


Premiere Schedule Ensemble


Dramatick opera by Henry Purcell and John Dryden

With an adapted text by Ewald Palmetshofer after John Dryden. Songs in English with German surtitles. Recommended for ages: 12 and above.

In a time long ago: the Britons and the Saxons are arming themselves for the final battle. Soon the men of young King Arthur and the warriors of the Saxon king Oswald will face each other in combat to decide who rules the island.  Rumours circulate among Arthur’s men about the Saxons’ strange rituals, a dark cult of worship to their Nordic god, about spirits and a cunning magician. If the great magician Merlin was not one of Arthur’s close confidants, the Britons’ situation would appear hopeless. When Arthur’s lover, the blind Emmeline, is kidnapped by the Saxon king, a chase begins through enchanted forests and moors populated by airborne and earth-dwelling spirits, nymphs and fauns.  Lost in a shadowy world between dream and reality, Arthur not only has to win back Emmeline, he must also keep alive the hope that peace is possible on the island. Because neither the Britons nor the Saxons can predict whether weapons, magic, trickery or reason will have the final say. And what will be left once the final spell has been spoken, the last sword broken and the final song has died away?

Purcell and Dryden’s semi-opera, which received its world premiere in London in 1691, combines acting, singing, music and dance in a single artistic experience embracing all the performing arts.  The semi-opera genre is a delicate hybrid form, a play with music in which – unlike classical opera – the plot is carried forward by actor in speaking roles. Purcell placed a glorious baroque sound world alongside Dryden’s play that was freely based on an early version of the Arthurian legend. Apart from the best known aria from «King Arthur», the «Cold Song», Purcell’s rich musical cosmos is ripe for discovery as an integrated part of a fairy-tale narrative about the desire for a world that is at peace.  

As musical director of this cross art form production Theater Basel has been able to secure the services of the famous British conductor and renowned expert on the English baroque tradition Christopher Moulds, who will be conducting the La Cetra Barockorchester Basel for the first time. The staging will be provided by the German director Stephan Kimmig and the choreography will be created in collaboration with the cast of dancers from the ballet ensemble. The playwright Ewald Palmetshofer will write a new version of Dryden’s play text in his own, highly musical language.

In «King Arthur» singers, members of the acting and ballet ensembles, the La Cetra Barockorchester and the Theater Basel chorus will tell the story of Arthur and Merlin’s wondrous peace agreement and a time when the age of the sorcerer had not yet passed.

A cross art from production with opera, ballet and theatre

Presenting Sponsor:
Stiftung zur Förderung der Theatergenossenschaft Basel

Partner des Ballett Theater Basel:

Preisstufe VII (von 30.– bis 118.–)