Charles V was emperor of an empire where the sun never set: In his "stage work with music," Austrian composer Ernst Krenek (1900 - 1991) traces the fate of a man who ruled not only over half of Europe in the 16th century, but also over Spanish territories in America and Africa. He shows the overpowering emperor on his deathbed in a desperate attempt to justify his life, his decisions and his omissions before God, the Church, his contemporaries and, not least, himself. Again and again, Krenek confronts the ruler with the question of the personal responsibility of the individual human being who wants to be measured against moral standards in a world marked by oppression, brutality and war.

Charles V was first performed in Prague in 1938, after the Vienna State Opera had canceled the premiere planned for 1934 under pressure from the Heimwehr. Even after the Second World War, new productions were rare, although Karl V. is not only considered the first full-length twelve-tone opera in music history, but also a broadly dimensioned, captivating work of the highest topicality, which proves - also by means of generously designed dialogue scenes - that twelve-tone music need have nothing to do with emotional abstinence.

© Bregenzer Festspiele




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