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Music Text

Libretto by Friedrich Petzold after the play by Michel de Ghelderode (G)


S,T,2Bar,silent role; chorus;

Abbreviations (PDF)


Boosey & Hawkes / Bote & Bock

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.


World Premiere
Company: Unknown


THE KING Baritone and speaker
The jester, FOLIAL Tenor and speaker
THE QUEEN Soprano and speaker
THE MONK Baritone
THE HANGMAN Silent role
Time and Place

Spain under Philip II


The sepulchral chamber of the Spanish kings in the Escorial – symbol of the limits and the transitoriness of power. Bizarre impressions show the fate of a king who has betrayed men and God for the sake of power. His conscience is nothing but tattered shreds of fear. He himself has become an automaton of fear. The hubris has outstripped the king, ruling and ordering his destruction. Left over by the despair is the jester, Folial. Mirror – counter-mirror – mirror of death: everything is at meltdown, the figures are blurred into each other. The fool is the king – the king, was he the fool? ... Beyond and behind the king lies burned, murdered life: one human being after another, individuals, troops, peoples, victims of torture – and now, also, the queen: the last, solitary, human voice, which the king has silenced... When the last voice is dying, when everything that can be killed has been killed, then the hour arrives when laughter and hate become fear.
Friedrich Petzold


Dramatic, Tragic

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