König Hirsch (‘The Stag King’)
- Andrew Clements
(‘The Stag King’)
Opera in three acts by Hans Werner Henze to a libretto by Heinz von Cramer after the fable by Carlo Gozzi; Berlin, Städtische Oper, 23 September 1956 (severely cut); revised as Il re cervo, oder Die Irrfahrten der Wahrheit, Kassel, Staatstheater, 10 March 1963; first performance of complete score, Stuttgart, Staatsoper, 5 May 1985.
Henze began discussions on a successor to his first stage opera, Boulevard Solitude, in 1952; Cramer’s libretto was prepared by the following year and the composition of König Hirsch occupied Henze between 1953 and 1955. It was the first of his works to be composed during his self-imposed exile in Ischia, and its teeming, many-hued textures reflect the optimism of this period in Henze’s life. The original score contained more than five hours of music, and its arias in particular were severely cut by the conductor Hermann Scherchen for the Berlin première in 1956, which was directed by Leonard Steckel; the cast included Sándor Kónya as the king, Helga Pilarczyk as Costanza, Tomislav Neralic as Tartaglia and Nora Jungwirth as Scolatella I. The same version was also presented at Darmstadt in ...