Discover more from Opera Daily
Opera Daily 🎶 — From Poland with Passion
This week's Opera Daily features "Roxana’s Song", an aria from Act 2 of the Polish opera Król Roger (King Roger) by Karol Szymanowski
👋 Hello to the new Opera Daily subscribers who have joined us this week. I hope you’re sitting on a comfortable couch with a warm beverage and enjoying your weekend. You can check out the complete Opera Daily archives and the playlist on YouTube for more selections. If you were forwarded this email by a friend, join us by subscribing here:
Today we’re listening to…
“Roxana’s Song” (Piesn Roksany), an aria from Act 2 of the Polish opera Król Roger (King Roger) by Karol Szymanowski.
During "Roxana’s Song” the character of Roxana, the queen and wife of King Roger, is in a state of emotional turmoil. The Shepherd, a mysterious and almost mystical figure, has been spreading teachings that blend hedonism and spirituality, and his presence has caused divisions within the kingdom and the court.
The song captures a moment where Roxana, deeply affected by the Shepherd's philosophy, expresses her fascination, longing, and internal conflict. Through the aria, Roxana communicates her desire for the liberation that the Shepherd promises. Her feelings are complex: there’s a mix of captivation, seduction, and perhaps even a touch of fear as she confronts the unknown.
Musically, "Roxana's Song" mirrors these emotions. It’s ethereal, capturing otherworldly beauty and the ambivalence of attraction and apprehension. The seductive melody and orchestration evoke a moonlit atmosphere filled with mystery and anticipation.
🎧 Treat Your Ears: (4 minute listen): Soprano Georgia Jarman sings “Roxana’s Song” from Karol Szymanowski's Król Roger, with Mariusz Kwiecień as King Roger, Kim Begley as Edrisi and the women of the Royal Opera Chorus. Kasper Holten’s production for The Royal Opera, May 2015, Antonio Pappano, conducting the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.
A Glimpse into King Roger:
Premiere: Warsaw, June 19, 1926
Szymanowski's Legacy: Beyond King Roger, Szymanowski left behind a vast and varied repertoire, from solo piano pieces to symphonies, solidifying his reputation as a seminal figure in Polish music.
Inspiration: The opera delves deep into the human psyche, drawing on the tensions between reason and passion, East and West, and paganism and Christianity. Its narrative is a tapestry of history, fantasy, and mysticism.
🌟 Spotlight on Karol Szymanowski: Often hailed as Poland’s greatest composer after Chopin, Szymanowski’s music is a unique fusion of late Romanticism, French Impressionism, and Eastern influences. Born in 1882, he witnessed an era of vast musical exploration and evolution. Throughout his career, Szymanowski continuously adapted and transformed his style, creating pieces that resonate with the listener on a profoundly emotional level. His ability to craft music that is all at once atmospheric, moving, and technically challenging makes him stand out among 20th-century composers. King Roger is a testament to his genius, a work where East meets West, and tradition mingles with innovation.
Grateful for your time and ears,
PS. Missed our last edition? We featured Soprano Sabine Devieilhe singing "Air de Feu" from Maurice Ravel’s L'Enfant et les Sortilèges.
An ask: If you liked this piece, I’d be grateful if you’d consider tapping the ❤️ in the header above. This helps me understand which pieces you like most, and what we should do more of. Thank you!