Long Beach Opera Presents KING ARTHUR Next Month

Article Pixel

Long Beach Opera presents a new production of Purcell's King Arthur --- a collaboration with Chicano provocateurs Culture Clash and the authentic sounds of LA 's premiere Baroque orchestra MUSICA ANGELICA -- in January 2020 for only three performances at Long Beach's Beverly O'Neill Theatre. Performances are Sunday January 12, Saturday January 18 and Sunday, January 19.

In this world premiere of LBO's re-imagination of the work, with adaptation and direction by Andreas Mitisek in collaboration with Culture Clash, King Arthur returns as a superhero who fights a mysterious, strange and unnatural force that is attacking Earth and threatening life as we know it. Will he be able to save humanity? How will he stand up against a race of alien shape shifters who desire to conquer the galaxy?

King Arthur's experience as a knight - with the aid of Purcell's most adventurous music -- comes in handy as he rescues his beloved princess. Featuring the authentic sounds of Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, with music direction by Concert Master Ilia Korol.

Purcell based his King Arthur on the battles between King Arthur's Britons and the Saxons, rather than the legends of Camelot -- although Merlin does make an appearance. It is a Restoration spectacular, including such otherworldly characters as Cupid and Venus plus references to the Germanic gods of the Saxons, Woden, Thor, and Freya.

The tale as told here centers on Arthur's endeavors to recover his fiancée, the blind Cornish Princess Emmeline, who has been abducted by his archenemy, the Saxon King Oswald of Kent. King Arthur contains some of Purcell's most lyrical music, complete with some of the most adventurous harmonies of his day.

For millennia, superheroes have battled supernatural forces and returned home "from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man," as the mythologist Joseph Campbell wrote. Heroes and heroines embark on perilous quests in search of lost loved ones, the secret of immortality, earthly paradise or simply great riches.

Many of these stories have elements in common, including clashes with monsters, battles with the elements, interventions by the gods, and tests of moral character, mental cunning and physical strength. These tales have been expressed in songs, literature, art and dance for thousands of years, and are still being reinterpreted today in books, comic strips, interactive games and adventure films.

For the audience, these stories don't show us how to acquire superpowers, but how to be the heroes of our own lives - by choosing altruism over the pursuit of wealth and power.

This production reunites the artistic team from LBO's production of Purcell's Fairy Queen (2017): Andreas Mitisek (Adaptation / Stage Director / Production Design), Culture Clash, and Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra.


Henry Purcell (1659-1695) was one of the greatest English composers, flourishing in the period that followed the restoration of the monarchy after the Puritan Commonwealth period. He spent much of his short life in the service of the Chapel Royal as a composer, organist and singer. With considerable gifts as a composer, he wrote extensively for the stage (particularly in a hybrid musico-dramatic form of the time), for the church, and for popular entertainment. He was a master of English word-setting and of contemporary compositional techniques for instruments and voices. He died in 1695, a year after composing funeral music for Queen Mary.

Purcell wrote only one full opera, a short work supposedly designed for a girls' school. The tragic story of Dido and Aeneas, with a libretto by Nahum Tate, has a perfection of its own. Dido's final lament, before she kills herself, follows the model for such compositions established by Monteverdi 80 years before.

Other stage works by Purcell are in the hybrid form now known as semi-opera, combining spoken drama with a musical element that in the concert hall may be performed apart from its wider dramatic context. These semi-operas include King Arthur, with a text by the poet John Dryden, a work that includes fascinating music for a chorus of cold people, frozen by the Cold Genius but thawed by the power of Love.

Purcell provided incidental music, dances and songs for a great many plays, including Aphra Behn's Abdelazar or The Moor's Revenge, a rondeau from which provides the theme for Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra.

In 17th-century England, opera had not fully developed as we know it today. Audiences were not sure about it; instead, the English preferred a mix of musical numbers and songs inserted into a stage play, dominated by spoken dialogue. This was what Londoners expected, and as a result, it became the formula composers followed for several decades. The terms "semi-opera", "dramatic[k] opera" and "English opera" were all applied to Restoration entertainments (1660-1689) that combined spoken plays with masque-like episodes.

Tickets for King Arthur range from $49 to $150, and can be purchased either by calling the LBO Box Office at 562.470.SING (7464) ext. 1 or by going online to LongBeachOpera.org/Tickets. For information, please visit www.LongBeachOpera.org

This activity is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov

Supported in part by a grant from the Arts Council for Long Beach and the City of Long Beach.

Long Beach Opera events are supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission

The 2020 LBO Season, Andreas Mitisek's final season after seventeen years, continues in March with the LA premiere of The Lighthouse, music and libretto by Peter Maxwell Davies, at the Pacific Visions Theater at the Long Beach Aquarium, and followed by the US premiere of Billy The Kid, music by Gavin Bryars at the Long Beach Sunnyside Cemetery in May. The season culminates with a reprise of Frida, with music by Robert X. Rodriguez, at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach in June.

LBO recently announced that during the search for the next Artistic Director, Yuval Sharon, described by The New York Times as opera's "disrupter in residence," will serve as the company's Interim Artistic Advisor; Sharon will curate the 2021 season, including selecting the operas, productions, and artistic teams. He will also participate as director for one of the season productions.

Long Beach Opera (LBO) is internationally known for its cutting-edge interpretations of unconventional repertoire. LBO creates immediate, inventive, and often boldly avant-garde productions for an adventurous audience and stands apart from most opera companies in the number of world, American, and West Coast premieres the company has staged. Founded in 1979, it is the oldest professional opera company in the Los Angeles/Orange County region with a performance history of more than 110 operas, ranging from the earliest works of the 17th century to operas of the 21st. LBO's evera??growing repertoire has provided stimulus for the subsequent founding of other local opera companies, catapulting Southern California into the spotlight as a major opera epicenter. LBO is a recognized and respected member of the U. S. cultural community, receiving funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, the County of Los Angeles, and the City of Long Beach, along with generous support from individual donors, local businesses, public corporations, and private foundations.

Related Articles View More Los Angeles Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You