The story of two young men whose love inspires opposing forces is behind Pinchgut Opera’s production of David and Jonathan -” a 320-year-old work never before seen in Australia.
Written by one of France’s great Baroque composers, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, the opera has its Australian premiere at the City Recital Hall Angel Place this Wednesday 3 December.
It’s about something very simple, that the idea of love and hope can exist in the midst of battle. It doesn’t always end happily, but the mere fact that it’s possible is most important, said director Chas Rader-Shieber.
The most difficult thing about a piece like this is that because it’s so rarely performed, it’s like making a brand new opera. The possibilities are limitless, which can often be a daunting thought.
Problematically, that’s also one of the most positive aspects about directing an opera like this. There are so few preconceived notions about how it’s supposed to go, that the storytelling is much more fun.
Swedish tenor Anders Dahlin, a specialist in the French haute-contre style, will sing the role of David, and soprano Sara Macliver will sing Jonathan. The Orchestra of the Antipodes will perform on bona fide French Baroque instruments.
The opera is based on the Bible story and the final battle between Saul and David. Rader-Shieber noted that the opera deals with issues that are as relevant today as they were three hundred years ago.
The fact that David and Jonathan are in a relationship isn’t the problem for the other characters -” it’s that they are on opposing sides of a war, he said.
How amazing that in an opera from 1688, the relationship is accepted, even celebrated, by the other soldiers. It’s the war between the Israelites and the Philistines, and the fact that David seems torn between being a war hero and being a lover that causes the problem in the opera.
I hope that the emotional journey of these characters and the themes inherent in the opera are made clear by the production. People fight wars to bring peace, that’s the only good reason, if one can believe that there’s a good reason for fighting a war. This is what David knows, and struggles with in the opera.
info: David and Jonathan will play at the City Recital Hall Angel Place on from Wednesday 3 December until Monday 8 December. Bookings on 8256 2222 or on
David and Jonathan is making its Australia premiere in December.