König Hirsch

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König Hirsch
Il re cervo
Opera by Hans Werner Henze
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F008277-0008, Köln, Schloss Brühl, Meisterkurse Musik.jpg
The composer in 1960
Librettist Heinz von Cramer (de)
Language German
Based on fable by Carlo Gozzi
Premiere 23 September 1956 (1956-09-23)
Theater des Westens, Berlin

König Hirsch (in English, The Stag King) is an opera in three acts by Hans Werner Henze to a German libretto by Heinz von Cramer (de) after a fable by Carlo Gozzi.

Performance history[edit]

König Hirsch was first performed in a shortened version by the Städtische Oper Berlin on 23 September 1956 in the Theater des Westens. It was rewritten as Il re cervo, oder Die Irrfahrten der Wahrheit (The Stag King or The Odysseys of Truth) and performed at the Staatstheater Kassel on 10 March 1963. This version was also produced at the Santa Fe Opera on 4 August 1965. The complete work was given for the first time on 5 May 1985 at the Staatsoper Stuttgart.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 23 September 1956
(Conductor: Hermann Scherchen)
The king (Leandro) tenor Sándor Kónya
The governor (Tartaglia) bass-baritone Leopold Clam
The maiden (Costanza) soprano Helga Pilarczyk
The preceptor bass Tomislav Neralic
Checco tenor Helmut Krebs
Coltellino tenor Martin Vantin
Scollatella I soprano Nora Jungwirth
Scollatella II soprano
Scollatella III mezzo-soprano
Scollatella IV contralto
Woman in black contralto
Statue I soprano
Statue II soprano
The stag mime
Voices in the forest, courtiers, animals, huntsmen, soldiers, city dwellers (chorus)


The king, who has been cast into the forest as a child by the governor, returns to his kingdom. However he is tricked by the governor and forced to go back to the forest where he turns into a stag. Eventually he goes back once again, the governor is killed, and he is transformed again into human form.