King Roger | Mariusz Treliński
Szymanowski’s sole theatrical work combines themes of the ancient world and the Orient. A mysterious Shepherd, the founder of a new religion, arrives in the Kingdom of Sicily, where he is brought before the royal court, upon which he casts a spell. Queen Roxana and her retinue depart, with King Roger in pursuit. When he finally finds her, he discovers the Shepherd’s true nature as Dionysus.
Karol Szymanowski initially intended his opera to be titled The Shepherd. The composer chose the current title while working on the music. Szymanowski started thinking about writing an opera in 1918; the idea was fleshed out during a conversation with his younger cousin, the writer Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, who authored the libretto for the opera, which was completed in 1924.
Treliński and Kudlička’s staging of the opera in Wrocław marks a departure from the monumental, historical character of the Warsaw version. The director attempts to extract the realistic dimension of the piece by depicting the world of power, which is signified by Roger’s suit and dark glasses and which pushes Roxana into a life of opulence and emptiness.
Music: Karol Szymanowski; libretto: Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz; director: Mariusz Treliński; musical director: Ewa Michnik; set designer: Boris Kudlička; costume designer: Wojciech Dziedzic; cast: Andrzej Dobber (Roger), Aleksandra Buczek (Roxana), Pavlo Tolstoy (Shepherd), and the Wrocław Opera Choir and Orchestra.