Monday, March 10, 2008

King Without A Country

I went to see City Opera's Mark Morris production of Purcell's King Arthur on Friday. The staging was abstract, the movement was lovely, the voices were variable but generally good, and Isaac Mizrahi's costumes were clever and beautiful.

So why did so many people leave at intermission? Were they expecting Verdi? Did the torrential rains dampen their spirits? Or did they perhaps think it was too floury? (A baker's blog that includes tips on how to even out the cinnamon distribution on French toast? I'll be back.)

Maybe the crown, which sat placidly on a pillow at various locations around the busy stage, distracted them. Arthur, unlike many English kings, never lost his head, but was Morris reminding us that "uneasy lies the head that wears the crown"? Or was it the royal version of "all hat and no cattle"?

(Dante Gabriel Rossetti's illustration for Tennyson's "The Passing of Arthur," found here.)

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