I recently wrote a program note on Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s David et Jonathas, which will be performed by Les Arts Florissants at the Brooklyn Academy of Music April 17-21. You can read it here.
It turns out that the opera was first composed to be performed at a prominent Jesuit school in Paris, as the musical interludes for a spoken play, Saül, which was performed by the students. Must have made for a rather long evening!
The opera, which is based on a biblical episode, tells the story of a tragic love between two friends, David et Jonathas, forced by circumstance to fight on opposite sides in a war. In a strange way, it is a kind of Romeo and Juliet story. Love does not conquer all, but it does give meaning to everything else.
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