Karol Szymanowski - Król Roger
Karol Szymanowski - Król Roger Karol Szymanowski - Król Roger Karol Szymanowski - Król Roger
Karol Szymanowski - Król Roger
22 May 2015 at 16h00 CET
Duration: 02:15:28"

Szymanowski - KRÓL ROGER

This opera is not available anymore.

A mysterious Shepherd is brought before King Roger. The Church officials want him punished for his heretical preaching, but Roger's queen Roxana pleads with the king to let the Shepherd speak first.

Polish composer Karol Szymanowski began to gather ideas for KRÓL ROGER (King Roger), his second and final opera, in 1918. He was in part inspired by Euripides' THE BACCHAE, in which King Pentheus attempts to suppress the hedonistic worship of Bacchus but ultimately succumbs to his temptation and is destroyed in a bloody frenzy. Szymanowski's cousin, the poet Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz, provided the original libretto; but in Szymanowski's arduous six-year gestation of the piece he altered the third act. His King Roger instead becomes a Nietzschean hero, who resists his desire and emerges 'strong enough for freedom'. But the focus of the opera is Roger's agonizing indecision – and the glorious music of the Act II Bacchic dance leaves a profound impression of the power of sensual temptation.

Szymanowski's music for the opera is opulently scored. The three short acts – commonly called the Byzantine, the Oriental and the Hellenic – brilliantly incorporate distinct musical styles. There are passages of exquisite lyricism, such as Roxana's soaring Act II aria, alongside thrilling writing for the chorus. Kasper Holten's new production (The Royal Opera's first) finds in Roger's indecision an expression of the struggle we all face – the struggle between intelligence and instinct in what is the innate duality of human nature.




A Royal Opera House Digital Programme accompanies this live streaming and is free for THE OPERA PLATFORM audiences. Use promo code "roger" to claim your digital programme, which contains specially selected films, articles, pictures and features to bring you closer to the production.


Mariusz Kwiecien - King Roger II
Saimir Pirgu - Shepherd
Georgia Jarman - Roxana
Kim Begley - Edrisi
Alan Ewing - Archbishop
Agnes Zwierko - Deaconess
Music director: Antonio Pappano
Costumes: Steffen Aarfing
Choir: Royal Opera Chorus
Choreography: Cathy Marston
Composer: Karol Szymanowski
Set design: Steffen Aarfing
Dramaturg: John Lloyd Davies
Libretto: Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz
Lighting: Jon Clark
Director: Kasper Holten
Orchestra: Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Video: Luke Halls

Available until

16 November 2015 at 00h00 CET


The Opera Platform presents Szymanowski - KRÓL ROGER from Royal Opera House. Starting 22 May 2015 at 16h00 CET, the opera will be available as video on demand.


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Royal Opera House: Król Roger

Royal Opera House | Holten and Aarfing discuss the set for Król Roger

Director Kasper Holten and set designer Steffen Aarfing discuss the set design in Król Roger. Kasper Holten's new production had its world premiere on 1 May 2015, conducted by Royal Opera Music Director Antonio Pappano, starring Mariusz Kwiecień (King Roger), Saimir Pirgu (The Shepherd) and Georgia Jarman (Roxana).