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Music Text

Libretto from Lionel Abel's English version of the play by Michel de Ghelderode (E,G)

Scoring

lyrT,Bar,B
1(=picc).1(=corA).1(=asax).1(=dbn)-1.1.0.0-perc(2):timp/xyl/t.bells/
SD/TD/BD/ratchet/cym (on stand)/ant.cyms/tgl/tamb/tam-t/wdbl-
pft(=cel,org)-strings(1.1.1.1.1)

Abbreviations (PDF)

World Premiere
5/4/1958
Kaufmann Concert Hall, New York, New York
Leopold Sachse, director
Conductor: Margaret Hillis
Company: Music in Our Time

Roles

THE KING High Baritone
FOLIAL Lyric Tenor
THE MONK Bass
THE MAN IN SCARLET Silent role
Time and Place

Medieval Spain, the Escorial palace

Synopsis

A disturbed Spanish King takes comfort in his depressive solitude. He has decreed that bells shall no longer toll, in spite of the monks' protests. His Queen has found solace in the court’s Jester, Folial. Now, she is dying at the hand of her enraged husband for her promiscuous behaviour. The King tricks the Jester into a confession about his relationship with the Queen and makes him beg for mercy. He then forces the Jester to entertain him. The Jester performs an impromptu play in which a beggar becomes king. During the play, he steals the King's crown. The King, seemingly in the spirit of things, wears the Jester's cap. They begin to playact one another's lives. The tension quickly escalates and the King reveals that he has poisoned the Queen. As the two men struggle, a monk announces the death of the Queen.  The King proceeds to summon the executioner, and the Jester is killed.

Moods

Dramatic, Tragic

Subjects

Relationships




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