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Music Text

Libretto by Béla Balász; English version by Chester Kallman (H,E,G)


S,B, 3mimes, speaker (optional)
small dr/tam-t/cyms/susp.cym/xyl/tgl-2harp-cel-org-strings
On-stage: 4tpt.4trbn

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the USA only.

For full details on this stagework, including synopsis and roles, please visit our Opera section.

Repertoire Note

Often now well paired with Schoenberg’s Erwartung or Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, Bartók’s opera was originally performed as a companion work to his ballet, The Wooden Prince. His librettist, Béla Balázs, wanted “to depict a modern soul in the primary colours of folksong”. The partnership worked better here, dramatically and musically, than in their balletic collaboration a few years later. As the opera lasts for under one hour, involves only two singing voices, and is a psychological drama, concert performances are also highly effective.

Note by Malcolm Gillies

Recommended Recording

László Polgár, Jessye Norman, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pierre Boulez
Deutsche Grammophon 447 040-2

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