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Photo by Ken Howard, courtesy of The Santa Fe Opera
The Polish Cultural Institute New York
is proud to support

Karol Szymanowski

Saturday, July 21, 2012 - Tuesday, August 14, 2012

8:30 pm performances: July 21, 25
8:00 pm performances: August 3, 9, 14

Tickets: $37-200,
available online

The Santa Fe Opera
301 Opera Drive, Santa Fe, NM


An Opera In Three Acts

Music by Karol Szymanowski

Libretto by Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz and Karol Szymanowski

Sung In Polish with English and Spanish Opera Titles

Performed without an intermission


Conductor - Evan Rogister

King Roger - Mariusz Kwiecien

Roxana - Erin Morley

Shepherd - William Burden

Edrisi - Dennis Petersen

Archbishop - Raymond Aceto

The Production Team:

Director - Stephen Wadsworth

Scenic Designer - Thomas Lynch

Costume Designer - Ann Hould-Ward

Lighting Designer - Duane Schuler

Choreographer - Peggy Hickey

The handsome Mr. Kwiecien exudes authority as the king, which makes his anguish even more moving when the shepherd rattles him. Singing in his native Polish, he can highlight the innate qualities of his impressive voice: the dark colorings, earthy textures and muscular delivery. - Antony Tommasini, The New York Times

King Roger, the landmark opera by the Polish composer Karol Szymanowski that has electrified audiences throughout Europe - will have its first of five performances by The Santa Fe Opera on Saturday, July 21, continuing through August 14. Although there have been a number of recent productions in the U.S., the Santa Fe offering is the first by a major opera company.

The title role will be sung by Metropolitan Opera star, Mariusz Kwiecien, in his first US appearance as King Roger. He has performed the role twice, in Paris and Madrid. The leading Polish baritone is an enthusiastic advocate for Szymanowski's work, and states that he wishes to perform it "everywhere in the world." The shepherd who turns life upside down in the kingdom will be sung by American tenor William Burden. A former member of the Apprentice Artist Program at TSFO and Santa Fe favorite, Burden appears regularly with leading opera companies. The King's wife is Erin Morley, last seen in Santa Fe as the Queen of the Night in the 2009 revival of Mozart's The Magic Flute. This season she performed three roles in Robert Lapage's Metropolitan Opera Ring cycle: Woglinde in Das Rheingold, Waldvogel in Siegfried, and Woglinde in Die Götterdämmerung. The conductor, making his Santa Fe Opera debut, is Evan Rogister, a young American who has been active in the European opera scene. The piece is directed by Stephen Wadsworth, one of the most acclaimed opera directors in the world, who directed among many others Boris Godunov, Rodelinda and Iphegnie en Tauride for the Metropolitan Opera as well as Amelia and Wagner's Ring for the Seattle Opera.

Composed in 1924, King Roger - a work of volcanic emotional and spiritual intensity - captivates listeners with a shimmering, translucent style that melds late Romanticism with modern harmonic freedom. Its mysterious magnetism seems especially appropriate for its philosophical subject matter.

According to Kwiecien, who speaks eloquently about the opera, the plot is an enigma. Its beauty, he says, is in the interpretation, which is left to the viewer. A young shepherd appears in the Christian kingdom ruled by King Roger. He tells the King that he is committed to the Dionysian philosophy with its abandonment to joy and ecstasy, and a creed of love and beauty.The palace is in turmoil as the stranger leads its inhabitants, including the Queen, to a distant place, leaving the King. Wishing to reclaim his wife, Roger decides to join the followers.The climax comes as the King is transformed during a bacchanal.

In honor of the premiere, the Santa Fe Center for Contemporary Arts will host Beyond King Roger: A Celebration of Polish Culture, a series of events surveying the work's musical and cultural context. Krzysztof Kieslowski's Decalogue will be screened from Monday, July 23, through Saturday, July 28. On July 28th, pianist Slawomir Dobrzanski and violinist Krzysztof Zimowski will present music of Karol Szymanowski and on July 29th the Del Sol Quartet will present works by two celebrated Polish contemporary composers, Pawel Szymanski and Pawel Mykietyn.

The Santa Fe Opera is one of the most highly acclaimed and innovative summer opera festivals in the nation. Its contemporary, state-of-the-art theater overlooks a vast mesa with the famed Sangre de Cristo and Jemez mountains on either side. Summer sunsets and starry skies enchant opera goers before and after the performance.

This production of KING ROGER is made possible with support from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw and the Polish Cultural Institute New York.

Interview with Mariusz Kwiecien

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More about Karol Szymanowski
The Cast
The Production Team

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