Kirill Karabits
Photo: Sussie Ahlburg

Under its Principal Conductor Kirill Karabits, Staatskapelle Weimar is scheduled to perform the premiere of Franz Liszt’s incomplete opera Sardanapalo in a concert version on 19 and 20 August. The cast comprises soprano Joyce El-Khoury and tenor Charles Castronovo.

The manuscript was left forgotten in the Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv in Weimar for almost 100 years. The music has been resurrected by David Trippett, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Music at the University of Cambridge.

The libretto is based on Lord Byron’s tragedy Sardanapalus and tells the story of Sardanapalo, King of ancient Assyria, a peace-loving monarch, who is defeated by rebels and murdered. Liszt’s opera focusses on the love between King Sardanapalo and his favourite concubine, Mirra, who unsuccessfully tries to convince the king to go to war.

Liszt only completed one act. Musicologists assume that he was not satisfied with the libretto for acts II and III.

Trippett worked on the manuscript with Liszt’s own instructions for orchestrating the score, obtaining a performance version which will be used for the Weimar premiere. The performance is set to be broadcast on Deutschlandfunk Kultur, and a recording will be released by the German label Audite. According to Tippett, the music is a unique blend of Italianate lyricism and harmonic innovation. »


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