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Michael Schønwandt continues his championing of Nielsen with a performance of Saul og David, filmed in Copenhagen. David Pountney’s production is fascinating, at once simple yet complex. The opera’s story generally remains faithful to the Biblical one (though thankfully we are spared David harvesting 100 Philistine foreskins to gain his bride), and Pountney stages it in a set surrounded by blocks of flats, where the chorus watches media reports of the action taking place in the central stage, events they cannot control but which will affect them. He is careful not to specify Israelis or Arabs, but this is obviously a Middle Eastern conflict, Saul is highly unstable and religious fundamentalist Samuel controls him, not dying but returning at the end to take his place. Johan Reuter delivers a tour de force as Saul, Niels Jørgen Riis manfully lasts the course as David, Morten Staugaard is a malevolent Samuel and Ann Petersen a firm Michal. Schønwandt leads his excellent orchestra and chorus with fervour through Nielsen’s massive score.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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