Szymanowski: King Roger
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
It is hard to believe that for decades Karol Szymanowski's masterpiece, his magnificent opera, King Roger of 1926, led such a shadowy existence until it was revealed for what it is by powerful champions such as Simon Rattle: one of the finest operas of the 20th century. The visually strong production by David Pountney provided the Bregenz Festival with one of its most abiding successes in recent years. Scott Hendricks in the baritone title role and Olga Pasichnyk as his Queen, Roxana, were both enthusiastically applauded.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
And the opera's meaning revolves around this. The Shepherd is none other than Dionysus, the god of Mysteries and Bacchanalia, portrayed here as stronger than any Christian God. It is through him that King Roger finds illumination. Will Hartmann has the looks and the voice of a god. Scott Hendriks is superb in the title role, Olga Pasichnyk in radiant voice as Roxana. For those who complain about a static production I'd have to point the real action is in the incredibly multilayered and ecstatic score. A pleasure to the ear, and to the eye.
King Roger is one of the best operas composed in the 20th Century and this performance does justice to the text and the music. Please don't let this neglect of a masterpiece go on ! Buy this disc, you will be charmed as I was. Don't miss it!
Amazon certified purchase
Actually, the music may well be better than second-rate. It has a tumultuous grandeur. If I listened to it another two or three times, I suspect that it would reveal depths and splendors. Or perhaps hearing it as a choral symphony would focus my attention on its compositional strengths. The problem, for me, is the dramaturgy. The libretto. The stuff that happens on stage and is intended to engage my emotions. Frankly, as a drama, King Roger is pretentious symboliste drivel, a quality that this Bregenzer staging exaggerates in every manner possible. The stage is a bare set of steps, like empty bleachers overlooking a stunned orchestra. The story concerns an abstract monarch in an abstract kingdom, whose subjects are clamoring for him to apprehend a heretic. The heretic, an abstract shepherd, turns out to be a charismatic witness to an abstract God. King Roger, like Pontius Pilate, is both contemptuous and overawed, while his wife Roxana is 'seduced' by the Shepherd's message. Eventually, the Shepherd and the Queen flee together. That's Act One. In the second act, Roger becomes a pilgrim in pursuit of his wife and perhaps of his sanity. He finds Roxana, as this production shows it, in a bizarre land of blood sacrifices. Yet just when it seems that the Shepherd is apocalyptically triumphant, the Sun rises and Roger is 'restored'. Huh? was it a dream? Nah, that's too easy! A religious epiphany? Frankly, I don't hear such a message in the music, which churns on in anguish and atonal anomie.
This staging is mercilessly static. The singing is quite good, but the sound recording is atrocious, as if done with a single mike on the yonder side of the orchestra pit, so that major vocal expressions sound 'back stage' arbitrarily. If the vocal lines were 'present' and full of timbres, the music might well carry the show. What I see and hear strikes me as a missed opportunity to make a case for this neglected opera. But I'm a 'hard sell' for meta-religious expressionism. If you, dear reader, know the films of Lars von Trier -- "Breaking the Wave" for example -- and like them, there's some possibility that you'll appreciate this film of "King Roger".