Un re in ascolto
Un re in ascolto (A King Listens) is an opera by Luciano Berio, who also wrote the libretto. The libretto (in Italian) is based on an idea by Italo Calvino, incorporating excerpts from Friedrich Einsiedel and Friedrich Wilhelm Gotter's eighteenth century libretto on Shakespeare's The Tempest as well as W. H. Auden's The Sea and the Mirror. Berio himself described the work as an azione musicale (musical action) rather than an opera. It falls into 19 sections grouped into two parts. The work was written from 1981 to 83 and received its premiere at the Kleines Festspielhaus, Salzburg, on 7 August 1984, conducted by Lorin Maazel, directed by Götz Friedrich, with set designs by Günther Schneider-Siemssen. The London premiere was on 9 February 1989 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
|Role||Voice type||Premiere cast, August 7, 1984
(conductor: Lorin Maazel)
|Prospero, an impresario and the title character||bass-baritone||Theo Adam|
|Regista (stage director)||tenor||Heinz Zednik|
|Soprano I||Karan Armstrong|
|Soprano II||Sylvia Greenberg|
|Venerdì, a stand-in for Caliban||speaking role||Helmut Lohner|
The opera does not have a conventional linear narrative.
The opera concerns itself with a king of a mythical kingdom who lives detached from his realm, where his only contact with his kingdom is through overhearing conversations. A traveling theatrical troupe arrives to stage a performance of The Tempest. The king overhears this action, and begins to imagine himself as Prospero from the play. As he overhears the auditions and the rehearsals, he begins to equate these with the happenings in his kingdom, blurring the two worlds. However, the king eventually undergoes a psychological collapse. Ultimately, the rehearsed production of The Tempest never occurs and the theatrical troupe departs. The king has a vision of the future as he moves towards his own death.
- Luciano Berio: Un re in ascolto (Theo Adam, Heinz Zednik, Sylvia Greenberg, Gabriele Sima, Helmut Wildhaber, Patricia Wise, Karan Armstrong, Rohangiz Yachmi, Anna Gonda, Helmuth Lohner; Vienna Philharmonic; Conductor: Lorin Maazel) CD 1999. Label: Col Legno 20005
- Loveland, Kenneth, "Reports: Salzburg" (October 1984). The Musical Times, 125 (1700): p. 588.
- Vogt, Matthias Theodor (translated by Stewart Spencer), "Listening as a Letter of Uriah: A Note on Berio's Un re in ascolto(1984) on the Occasion of the Opera's First Performance in London (9 February 1989)" (July 1990). Cambridge Opera Journal, 2 (2): pp. 173–185.
- Belinfante, David, "Luciano Berio's Un re in ascolto (February 1989). The Musical Times, 130 (1752): pp. 70–71.
- Northcott, Bayan, "Notes on Auden: 2. Life after Britten?" (February 1993). The Musical Times, 134 (1800): pp. 68–72.
- David Osmond-Smith. "Re in ascolto, Un", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed March 2008), grovemusic.com (subscription access).
- Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 0-140-29312-4
- The publisher's description — Universal Edition