Zemlinsky: Der Konig Kandaules

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Zemlinsky
LABELS: Capriccio
WORKS: Der Konig Kandaules
PERFORMER: James O’Neal, Monte Pederson, Nina Warren, Klaus HagerHamburg State PO/Gerd Albrecht
CATALOGUE NO: 60 071-2
When Zemlinsky fled from the Nazis to New York in 1938, his current project – his fifth opera, Der Konig Kandaules— was finished only in short score. Completion of the work was nevertheless uppermost in Zemlinsky’s mind as he discussed the possibility of its premiere with former pupil Artur Bodanzky, now conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. Fearing that the eroticism in the libretto (by Franz Blei, after Andre” Gide) was unsuitable for an easily scandalised New York audience, Bodanzky dissuaded Zemlinsky from pursuing the opera and the work lay unperformed until the premiere of Antony Beaumont’s completion last year by the Hamburg State Opera.


Although Zemlinsky finished only the first 846 bars of the full score, his short score contains clear indications of intended textures and timbres. No doubt Beaumont’s task was made easier by similarities in situation with Der Zwerg, Zemlinsky’s earlier opera – the royal palace and garden, preparations for a banquet and conspicuous wealth marked by the arrival of an outsider all conjure up a similar atmosphere of exotic, perfumed opulence.


This world premiere recording on Capriccio is taken from the first performances, conducted by Gerd Albrecht. Marred by weak voices in the three central roles and a rather confined sound, it is nonetheless an important and recommended issue. Deborah Calland