David et Jonathas

David et Jonathas

David et Jonathas

Marc-Antoine Charpentier

BIBLICAL TRAGEDY in five acts and a prologue, 1688. Libretto by Father Bretonneau. 

William Christie
Andreas Homoki
Les Arts Florissants 

Presentation of the work by Agnès Terrier 40 minutes prior to each performance.

William Christie
Andreas Homoki

Pascal CharbonneauAna QuintansArnaud RichardKrešimir ŠpicerFrédéric CatonDominique VissePierre Bessière

Les Arts Florissants


Les Arts Florissants and Charpentier's spiritual art

When Lully ruled over opera thanks to a royal privilege, Marc-Antoine Charpentier had to restrict his lyrical inspiration to private or more modest contexts. Yet Molière's last collaborator mastered the sacred genres which he transcended with an inspiration drawn on Roman sources. Lully's monopoly enabled him to explore a more delicate style: the singing of the soul. Haunted by an innate sense of drama, Charpentier developed an opera freed from Lullyan canons in Jesuit colleges where dramatic art had an educational virtue per se. Fighting for the Philistines, the young David gets himself prepared to become a king on the battlefields. War training would smile on him had he not to confront fearsome King Saul whose son Jonathas is his bosom friend. David et Jonathasextols faithfulness in an uplifting tragedy. 

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Previous developments 
In his palace, Saul King of Israel receives the shepherd David who vanquished the giant Goliath and whose singing soothes his tortured heart. Yet Saul distrusts David, whom he suspects of intending to depose him. The friendship between David and his son Jonathas only stirs up his fears. In a fit of rage, he throws his spear at David, who runs away from the court and takes refuge with Israel’s enemies, the Philistines, and their king Achis. But the Philistine warlords, jealous of his fame, cast him out. 


After David has defeated the Amalekites, the Philistines call him back to their camp. Warriors, shepherds and captives freed by David sing his praise. Left alone, the young man laments: he fears that his return with the Philistines will lead him to wage war against Israel and his friend Jonathas. But King Achis prepares to meet with Saul in order to reach a truce. He leaves his decision to David who pleads for peace.

Joabel, commander of the Philistine army, exhorts David to war but he resists him. Envious of David’s glory, Joabel becomes angry: he decides to feed Saul’s suspicions so as to break the truce. Meanwhile, David meets with Jonathas again and they both celebrate the charms of peace. 

During his negotiations with Achis, Saul tells him of his distrust of David and entreats him to kill the youth, which Achis refuses. 
When David appears before Saul, the latter accuses him of treason and asks Jonathas to avenge him. But Jonathas turns aside, increasing the king’s anger. Terrified by the scene, David goes away, an evasion that reinforces Saul’s suspicions. He runs after him while Joabel rejoices at the success of his slander. 

Intermediate scene  (prologue of the original work) 
Doubting God’s support, Saul goes to a pythoness and asks her to summon the ghost of Samuel, the renowned ruler he succeeded. Yielding to the soothsayer’s incantations, the Shadow of Samuel appears and announces to Saul that Heaven has forsaken him. 

Knowing that the truce is to be broken, David prays to Heaven. Jonathas finds him and criticizes his avoiding him. In despair, the two friends must part. Now alone, Jonathas is torn: should he follow his friend and abandon his father? The sound of fighting prompts him to join the belligerents and protect David. Saul breaks the truce by hurling abuse at Achis. Joabel is glad that the king of the Philistines eventually decides to engage in combat. 

At the height of the battle, Jonathas is seriously injured. Saul takes it out on the guards who accompany him and, at the peak of fury, returns to fight against David. While the Philistines are victorious, David comes to the bedside of Jonathas who expires in his arms. David unleashes his despair. Fatally wounded, Saul tries in vain to strike him in a final burst. Achis proclaims David new king of Israel. But amid songs of victory, the victor is distraught: “I lost everything I love / All is lost for me.”

Alain Perroux – Festival d’Aix-en-Provence

Sponsor of the production:


With the support of:

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Direction musicale, William Christie
Mise en scène, Andreas Homoki
Scénographie, Paul Zoller
Costumes, Gideon Davey
Lumières, Franck Evin

David, Pascal Charbonneau
Jonathas, Ana Quintans
Saül, Arnaud Richard (Pour des raisons de santé Neal Davis ne pourra pas assurer les représentations parisiennes)
Joabel, Krešimir Špicer
Achis, Frédéric Caton
La Pythonisse, Dominique Visse
L'Ombre de Samuel, premier guerrier, Pierre Bessière

Orchestre et chœur, Les Arts Florissants  

Production, Festival d'Aix-en-Provence
Coproduction, Opéra Comique, Théâtre de Caen

Ensemble associé, Les Arts Florissants avec le soutien de la Selz Foundation

Durée du spectacle : 2h30 

Tournées prévues en 2013 :
Théâtre de Caen (coproduction) - les 3 et 5 février 2013 
New-York- BAM - les 17, 18, 20 et 21 avril 2013

Sponsor of the production:


With the support of:

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