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BACK in September, the always innovative Opera North company presented Verdi's opera Nabucco as an oratorio.
Now, they have presented George Frideric Handel's oratorio Saul as if it's an opera, complete with costumes, a setting based on the name of its hero in letters several metres high in front of the Town Hall organ, much running up and down stairs and a climax when the fabric to the front of the "Saul" letters is torn off, symbolising the Jewish king's fall from grace.
Some of the business that has been added to the production is rather distracting and it is often tempting to shut your eyes to concentrate on the music.
This, as ever, is superb, although the textures that Christopher Curnyn conjures out of the orchestra are a little too lush for music of this period.
There are also balance problems, which means that, when the characters move up behind the orchestra, they are not so audible as when they are at the front of stage.
Of an excellent cast, the singing of Lucy Crowe as Saul's younger daughter Michal is particularly striking, as is counter-tenor Tim Mead as the young David.
Mead's voice is truly lovely and his personation of the white-clad king-in-waiting - in a cast where everyone else is dressed in black - gets to the heart of the character.
However, the piece doesn't really convince us that this young man could slay tens of thousands, compared with the thousands slain by King Saul in this violent and contentious time in Israel's history.
But this is not his fault. One can lay the blame at the door of Handel or, more likely, his crusty librettist Charles Jennens.
Neither libretto nor production falls short of portraying the homoerotically ambiguous relationship between David and Saul's son Jonathan, about whom the words ascribed by the Bible to David after Jonathan's death must worry Christian homophobes. "I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother, you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women."
The programme notes set the piece accurately in the time after the "Glorious Revolution" of William and Mary, a time when the memory of the execution of Charles I would give a resonance to the story of the deposition of the Jewish king.
Like Verdi, Handel was a truly popular composer whose works were sufficiently part of the national musical psyche for many of them to be "borrowed" by the Wesleys when they were spreading the gospel in colliery villages - much to the irritation of upper-class churchgoers - half a century later.
Unlike other semi-staged productions while Leeds Grand Theatre is refurbished, Opera North is not taking Saul on tour, but its two next productions, Hansel and Gretel and Salome, will be playing Nottingham, Gateshead and Lancaster as well as Leeds this month and in the new year.