Karol Szymanowski


contemporary opera 12
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Opera in three acts, one part, in Polish, with Hungarian and English subtitles

The opera, King Roger, is the supreme work of Karol Szymanowski, whose creation was finished between 1918-1924. The libretto was written by the composer in collaboration with his distant cousin Jaroslaw Iwaskiewicz, who later became well-known Polish writer. After several visits to Italy and Sicily, Szymanowski was fascinated by their culture and history, as well as the unknown worlds that opened up to him in Mediterranean surroundings.
King Roger has been performed in many parts of the world, and the Slavic Season brings the opera to Hungary. The production directed by Anton Korenči is a guest performance by the National Theatre Košice as part of the 10th Theatre Olympics.

Roger II: Michał Partyka
Roxana: Gabriela Hrženjak
Edrisi: Maksym Kutsenko
Shepherd: Juraj Hollý
Archbishop: Michal Onufer
Deaconess: Myroslava Havryliuk
A young boy: André Tatarka

Featuring the National Theatre Košice Orchestra and Chorus

Conductor: Peter Valentovič

Librettist: Karol Szymanowski, Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz
Scenography: Ondrej Zachar
Costume designer: Boris Hanečka
Lighting designer: Farkas Róbert
Director: Anton Korenči


Eiffel Art Studios – Miklós Bánffy Stage


Act 1

The rays of the setting sun suddenly shine through the interior of the temple. The clergy and the people call upon King Roger to punish with death an unknown mysterious stranger who comes as a Shepherd and preaches a strange religion to the people. The Shepherd appears and speaks of the young and beautiful god of whom he is the messenger. He preaches to all who long for love. Roxana, the king’s wife, is captivated by the Shepherd’s speech and convinces Roger not to have him killed. The King releases the Shepherd with the understanding that he will appear at his palace in the evening for trial.

Act 2

In his palace, Roger awaits the arrival of the Shepherd in the company of his physician Edrisi. He is disturbed by the mysterious charm of the Shepherd. Roxana sings an alluring song. The Shepherd arrives and greets the King in the name of love. Roger does not believe his song of love and calls him a heretic. The Shepherd orders his companions to dance, the whole crowd gradually joins in the increasingly wild magical movement. At the climax of the mad dance, in which Roxana joins in, Roger orders the Shepherd to be seized and bound with chains. The people, however, protect the Shepherd, and he walks away. Roxana, and the crowd, follow him. Roger is left alone with Edrisi. He decides to become a pilgrim and follow the Shepherd as well.

Act 3

In the ruins of the Greek amphitheatre in which Roger and Edrisi find themselves, Roger calls out to Roxana, who arrives and announces to him the coming of the Shepherd. Only he can save his heart. At the climax of the ecstatic dance, the Shepherd appears in the form of the god Dionysus. His entourage transforms into a mob of Bacchantes, dryads and satyrs, and at the height of the ecstasy he tears Roger’s body apart. Dawn breaks, Edrisi tells Roger: „The dream is achieved.” Roger awakens from his dream and makes an invisible sacrifice – his heart to the sun.