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Jo Litson
Limelight, January 2017

Conducted by Ivor Bolton, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment plays Handel’s glorious music with great verve. The singing is also excellent. As the Lear-like Saul, driven mad by jealousy of David, Christopher Purves gives a dramatically unnerving, restlessly physical performance, the camera capturing the increasing madness in his eye. Iestyn Davies’ exquisitely sung David, by contrast, is frequently still, his sphinx-like expression revealing little.

There are also powerful performances from Paul Appleby as Jonathan, and Lucy Crowe and Sophie Bevan as Saul’s daughters Merab and Michal—all in thrall to David. The 40-strong chorus sing superbly and throw themselves into Kosky’s theatrical demands, while Otto Pichler’s choreography for six dancers brings a mad energy to the big ensemble numbers. Effectively captured for the screen, with excellent sound, this is a justly acclaimed production. © 2017 Limelight Read complete review



Curtis Rogers
MusicWeb International, January 2017

On the whole the performance benefits from the presence and energy of a live rendition: particularly impressive is the dynamism sustained throughout the sequence of mainly choral numbers near the beginning of the first part as it then culminates in a fugal ‘Hallelujah’ chorus, and again at the very end of the work as the tension mounts towards the conclusion.

Altogether this is a fine piece of musical theatre and the DVD recording picks up just about as much glamour and nuance as is it is possible to convey using the comparatively limited focus of cameras. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review



David Shengold
Opera News, December 2016

Conductor Ivor Bolton is a practiced, if not always light-fingered, Handelian. Davies, elegant and ever musical, does appreciable work as David, a role written for a mezzo, first performed by a tenor and sometimes assigned to countertenors. …Paul Appleby’s clean, airy lyric tenor suits Jonathan’s lovely music very well. © 2016 Opera News Read complete review



John W Barker
American Record Guide, November 2016

Vocally, the cast is resplendent. Despite all the shenanigans required of him, Purves manages to sing with power and expression. If you close your eyes to Davies’s icy acting, you can relish his smooth and quite lovely singing.

The chorus is given a lot of movement and participates often very movingly (‘Preserve him for the glory of thy name’), but it manages to shift about as required and still sing with an appropriate beauty and force. The team of six dancers carries out Otto Pichler’s clever choreography with really enjoyable zest. Handel veteran Bolton conducts the period orchestra with obvious relish. © 2016 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Henson Keys
Parterre Box, October 2016

The excellent singing actor Christopher Purves plays Saul with very broad strokes, using his remarkable physical versatility to make Saul’s madness even more vivid. He shakes, he gibbers, he lashes out in fury and rage, all the while singing powerfully, though his voice seems a bit heavy for some of the faster passages. Countertenor Iestyn Davies is a gentle, quiet, and very human David, singing with great beauty and purity of tone…

Lucy Crowe is a ravishing Merab, easily singing the most difficult coloratura passages and floating some of the most gorgeous high notes I’ve heard in years. …Benjamin Hulett has a grotesque charm in the multiple roles of Saul’s advisor, with stylized movement that works very well.

Ivor Bolton’s mastery of Handel’s scores is well known, and here he draws a lively and very precise reading from the fine Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Communication between conductor, orchestra, and singer is exemplary here.

The entire cast, orchestra, and dancers have clearly “bought into” Kosky’s ideas and bring fine singing, playing and dramatic commitment to Handel’s difficult score. © 2016 Parterre Box Read complete review



Hans de Groot
The WholeNote, August 2016

This Saul, which has the superb Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, concentrates on madness. It was first performed at Glyndebourne in 2015. The production shows how madness is a destructive force, towards others but also towards the self. …Of the singers, I was especially impressed by the countertenor Iestyn Davies, who sings David. Christopher Purves (Saul and Samuel), Lucy Crowe (Merab), Sophie Bevan (Michal) and Paul Appleby (Jonathan) are also very good.© 2016 The WholeNote Read complete review





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