William Christie to Conduct Les Arts Florissants in DAVID ET JONATHAS at BAM, 4/17-21
Following their landmark revival of Atys in 2011, esteemed conductor William Christie and his early music ensemble Les Arts Florissants return to BAM with another French Baroque gem: David et Jonathas, in a production directed by the general manager of Zurich Opera House Andreas Homoki, making his US debut.
First presented in 1688, Marc-Antoine Charpentier's David et Jonathas dramatizes one of the most celebrated male loves in the Bible: that of the young Israeli prince, Jonathas, and its future king, David. Israeli King Saül, jealous of David's military prowess and suspicious of his affection for his son Jonathas, banishes the young shepherd, who then flees to the opposing Philistine camp. Saül's hatred leads him to a battle that claims both his and Jonathas' lives, paving the way for David's ascension to the throne.
David et Jonathas was originally conceived as a series of interludes woven into a five-act biblical play, now lost, by the Jesuit priest Eìtienne Chamillart. William Christie first presented the opera in concert and recorded it in 1988. It wasn't until 2012 at Aix-en-Provence that he was able to present it in a full production by Andreas Homoki, who updated the setting to the Mediterranean in the early 20th century and highlighted the work's pacifist message. Its ingenious staging places the action within a constantly-moving wooden frame, which expands and contracts to reveal a series of flashbacks of happier times for the two young protagonists. Comparing their story to that of Romeo and Juliet, Homoki said that Charpentier found a "poignantly intense music tone" to portray the doomed relations between David and Jonathas and that the piece reminds us of the "power of love to erase borders and to transform hate into love."
For the past 30 years, William Christie has led the international revival of French Baroque music and many of his acclaimed productions are seen in New York on BAM's stages. To celebrate his long-standing relations with BAM, starting with his first appearance with Atys in 1989, an Iconic Artist Talk will be held on Apr 21. Maestro Christie will discuss his music career, as seen through his considerable number of engagements at BAM, with longtime theater critic, author, and current Vanity Fair columnist John Heilpern.
David et Jonathas US Premiere
By Marc-Antoine Charpentier
Les Arts Florissants
An Aix-en-Provence Festival production
Conducted by William Christie
Directed by Andreas Homoki
Scene design by Paul Zoller
Costume design by Gideon Davey
Lighting design by Franck Evin
Cast: Pascal Charbonneau (David), Ana Quintans (Jonathas), Neal Davies (Saül), Kresimir Spicer (Joabel), Dominique Visse (La Pythonisse), and Fréderic Caton (Archis)
Performances take place at BAM's Howard Gilman Opera House (30 Lafayette Ave) on Apr 17, 18 & 20 at 7:30pm; and Apr 21 at 2pm. Tickets start at $30. In French with English titles.
William Christie, harpsichordist, conductor, musicologist, and teacher, is the inspiration behind one of the most exciting musical adventures of the last 30 years. Born in Buffalo, William Christie studied at Harvard and Yale Universities and has lived in France since 1971. He founded Les Arts Florissants in 1979 and received major public recognition in 1987 with the production of Atys at the Opéra Comique in Paris (the production's US debut was presented at BAM in 1989; its much-anticipated revival was presented at BAM in September 2011). His pioneering work has led to a renewed appreciation of 17th- and 18th-century French repertoire. He is equally adept at other European repertoire and has given many acclaimed performances of works by Monteverdi, Rossi, Scarlatti, Purcell, Handel, Haydn, and Mozart. His extensive discography (more than 100 recordings, many of which have won awards in France and abroad) with Harmonia Mundi and Warner Classics/Erato is proof of this versatility.
William Christie has a particularly busy operatic career and has collaborated with renowned directors such as Jean-Marie Villégier, Robert Carsen, Alfredo Arias, Jorge Lavelli, Graham Vick, Adrian Noble, Andrei Serban, and Luc Bondy. In great demand as a guest conductor, he has been invited by the Berlin Philharmonic, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Metropolitan Opera of New York, the Zurich Opernhaus, and the Opéra national de Lyon. Christie is Commandeur of l'Ordre de la Légion d'Honneur as well as Officier of l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. He was elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 2008 and received the 2005 Georges Pompidou Prize as well as the Liliane Bettencourt Choral Singing Prize awarded by the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 2004.