For its first DVD release Glossa has chosen a veritable spectacular, combining the strong creative ideas represented by one of its established artistic teams in Hervé Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel, the fabulously funny and hugely-successful French comedy duo of Shirley and Dino (Corinne and Gilles Benizio in real life), a film director in Olivier Simonnet with proven experience in the music of the Baroque and a masterpiece of a dramatick operatic score in Henry Purcell’s King Arthur.
The production got firmly into gear after Hervé Niquet had parked himself in front of the motorbike of Gilles Benizio, just as the comedian was about to speed off at the end of a Shirley et Dino show, and had requested that the Benizios should become the stage directors for King Arthur in Montpellier. Soon, apparently the music and stage directors found that they held shared tastes in humour, even unto the nonsensical and surrealist elements of Monty Python and its Flying Circus. Niquet, who had already recorded King Arthur for Glossa – on CD back in 2003 – was now imagining quite a different approach, and what emerged from directorial meetings was a divertissement interspersed with intermèdes, whilst critically retaining the entirety of Henry Purcell’s score (and thereby John Dryden’s original libretto). The new plot with its series of individual scenes even now allows for the role of King Arthur himself (assumed here by João Fernandes) as well as the comic sketches starring Shirley et Dino and other members of the cast – even the musical director gets his turn on the stage, rather than in the pit.
The production was staged and recorded last spring at the Opéra de Montpellier in France where Le Concert Spirituel has been in residence since 2006. For the imminent DVD release (November 5th) – which comes with an equally entertaining bonus track – there are subtitles in English, French, German and Spanish.
© 2009 Diverdi / Glossa Music