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date: 18 November 2019

Kluge, Die [ Die Geschichte von dem König und der klugen Frau (‘The Story of the King and the Clever Young Woman)]locked

  • Erik Levi

Extract

[ Die Geschichte von dem König und der klugen Frau (‘The Story of the King and the Clever Young Woman)]

Opera in 12 scenes by Carl Orff after the fairy-tale Die kluge Bauerntochter by the brothers Jacob Ludwig and Wilhelm Carl Grimm ; Frankfurt, Städtische Bühnen, 18 February 1943.

The Clever Girl (soprano) is the daughter of a Peasant (bass). He finds a golden mortar while ploughing a field and, against his daughter’s wishes, has taken it to the King (baritone). The King immediately locks up the Peasant in a tower because he does not produce the golden pestle which is supposed to go with the mortar. Together with the Prison Governor (bass), he presses the Peasant to tell him where the pestle is hidden. However, the Peasant simply reiterates the warnings delivered by his daughter. In exasperation, the King demands to see the daughter. She appears and is asked three riddles which she solves with no difficulty. Without hesitation, he asks for her hand in marriage.

Meanwhile, a Man with a Donkey (tenor) and a Man with a Mule (baritone) have been quarrelling over the ownership of a colt which had been born to the donkey during the night but which had been found lying near the mule. The dispute is brought before the King who decides in favour of the man who owns the mule. The Clever Girl consoles the man with the donkey and offers advice as to how to recover his colt. Furious that his orders have been contradicted, the King tells the Clever Girl that he has had enough of her and that she must leave. As a concession, she can keep a trunk and put her most precious possession into it. She prepares the King one last meal and, having drugged his wine, puts him into the trunk as the object she holds most dear. At the end, she claims that her cleverness was just a pose since ‘no one can both love and be clever’. As the plot unfolds three Vagabonds (tenor, baritone and bass) regularly appear to exchange remarks and comment upon the situation, much in the manner of figures from the ...

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