English semi-opera is a strange beast: a story broken up and illustrated by music. Once you settle into it, the shuttling rhythm between music and story is surprisingly and undeniably charming, constantly provoking the imagination and beguiling the ear by turns. Vox Luminis’ residency at this year’s Aldeburgh Festival, having begun with Bach and moved on to a mixed programme of Tallis, Byrd, White, Morley, Purcell and Britten, culminated in an infectiously joyous King Arthur, directed with skill by Vox Luminis’ own Lionel Meunier. As the singers’ warm vocal colours explored the richness of Snape’s acoustic, in an atmosphere of gloriously secure, skilful musicianship (with some musicians playing several different period instruments), the genre-busting strangeness of it all just added to the fun.
Click here to read my full review on Bachtrack.
- Click here to read Dryden’s libretto
- Click here to see Betterton’s wry Prologue, as well as the rest of the libretto
- Useful history of the work from the Camelot Project at the University of Rochester
- Programme note by Lindsay Kemp, and libretto, from a 2009 performance at the Barbican
- Interrogating “King Arthur”: A contrapuntal prologue, Caryl Clark and Brian Corman, from Restoration: Studies in English Literary Culture, 1660-1700 Vol. 34, No. 1/2 (Spring – Fall 2010), pp. 1-4 [available to read online for free at JSTOR]