Eboracum Baroque are delighted to return to the idyllic surroundings of The Orchard Tea Garden in Grantchester for a series of baroque concerts.
Their final performance features a concert version of one of Henry Purcell’s greatest works, King Arthur. This patriotic opera is packed full of great tunes from battle cries from the chorus and trumpets tunes through to the shivering ‘Cold Song’ and the iconic ‘Fairest Isle’.
We perform this work with just 9 singers acting as both the soloists and chorus accompanied by an orchestra of strings, oboes, recorders and trumpet. It features a vast array of characters from evil magicians, soldiers, amorous shepherds, drunken peasants and mythical beings.
King Arthur – A Tale of Love and War
King Arthur, helped by the wizard Merlin, defends his country and his beloved Emmeline against the incursions of the Saxon, King Oswald. The opera begins on St George’s Day as they prepare for the final battle. The Saxons are aided by the evil magician, Osmond and the spirit, Grimbald.
Arthur and the Britons defeat the Saxon invaders, leaving them with only a foothold in the country. As a last resort, encouraged by Osmond and Grimbald, they kidnap Emmeline. Arthur with the help of Merlin and Philidel, defeats Oswald and wins her back. Her sight is restored, and the work ends with a spectacular celebration of the future for Britannia, which features ‘Fairest Isle’, one of Purcell’s greatest songs.
In Act 1 there is a Sacrificial Scene, in which Saxon Priests and Chorus prepare to sacrifice horses and people to the gods Woden, Thor and Freya. Notwithstanding this, the British forces win a victory, which they celebrate in a Battle Scene. In Act 2, a Spirit Scene shows friendly and enemy spirits attempting variously to lead or mislead the British forces through a morass. A Pastoral Scene shows the happy life of shepherds, untouched by the warring around them. In Act 3, as an illustration of the power of love. Cupid descends on a wintry landscape and even the Cold Genius and his colleagues are warmed by his gift. In Act 4’s Sylvan Scene, two sirens attempt to lure Arthur into the waters, succeeded by groups of nymphs and sylvans. The final scene brings on a tableau of Britannia and various celebrations of Britain, ending with a hymn to St George and the British state.