Royal Opera House
Extraordinary music of hypnotic power distinguishes Szymanowski's dramatic masterpiece of 1926. Director od Opera Kasper Holten and designer Steffen Aarfing present a psychologically probing new staging for the first performances at the Royal Opera House of this intense drama. The interplay of richly diverse musical styles through its three concentrated, short acts evoke the journey of discoveryof King Roger, provoked by the hedonistic teachings of a stranger, the Sheperd. Roger is torn between the intellect and his desires, between the man and the beast within himself and it is a struggle that is mirrored in a struggle between democracy and fascism in the society around him. Highlights include the trascendent opening that depicts a Mass, Roxana's erotic Act II aria and the ecstatic, abandoned dances for the folllowers of the Sheperd . Baritone Mariusz Kwiecien sings the title role, which he has made his own in performances in Europe and in the USA. Georgia Jarman's portrayal of Queen Roxana is her Royal Opera debut and Saimir Pirgu plays the Sheperd. To top an already commanding team, the conductor is Royal Opera Music Director Antonio Pappano.