reviewed by Paula Citron
King Arthur or The British Worthy
Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir
Composed by Henry Purcell
Libretto by John Dryden
Conducted by Ivars Taurins
Starring Susie LeBlanc, Charles Daniels, Nathaniel Watson (and Michele DeBoer)
At Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre
The concert performance of Purcell’s King Arthur in 1999 was one of Tafelmusik’s most admired achievements. To celebrate the 350th anniversary of the composer’s birth, the company restaged the concert and it was a connoisseur’s delight from beginning to end.
John Dryden’s text for his “dramatick opera” is a patriotic homage to Britain, ending with a truce between the Britons and Saxons to create the “Fairest Isle”. The great actor R.H. Thomson was on hand to recite Dryden’s adapted verse as the connecting narration linking Purcell’s glorious music.
Canadian Susie LeBlanc and British Charles Daniels, both part of the original cast, reprised their soprano and tenor roles respectively, with American Nathaniel Watson taking on the baritone parts. Choir member Michele DeBoer helped out in the soprano duets. The soloists and choir negotiated Purcell’s many moods with aplomb.
Ivars Taurins conducted King Arthur and it was a near flawless concert – a joyous coming together of excellent musicians and excellent music-making.