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Karl V

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Title: Karl V  
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Subject: List of historical opera characters, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Kaisermarsch, Theodor Körner (opera), 20th-century music
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Karl V

Karl V. is an opera, described as a Bühnenwerk mit Musik (stage work with music) by Ernst Krenek, his opus 73. The German libretto is by the composer.

The first full-length twelve-tone opera[1] tells the story of Emperor Charles V's life in a series of flashbacks on a split stage, devices which the composer only much later recognized as "cinematic" in style;[2] there is also some use of Sprechstimme.


Titian's Last Judgment, owned by the emperor (depicted in a white robe at the upper right) and called for as a stage backdrop. (El Prado).

Originally commissioned in 1930 by the Vienna State Opera for performance in 1934, this much anticipated work[3] became a cause célèbre when the production was cancelled after Krenek was blacklisted in Germany by the Nazi government immediately following the German parliamentary elections in March 1933.[4] The composer believed it was its strong emphasis on Christian universality that made Karl V. "utterly intolerable" to the Nazis.[5] A concert suite for soprano (Fragmente aus dem Bühnenwerk Karl V., op. 73a) was performed in 1936, and the opera was staged for the first time on 22 June 1938 at the Neues Deutsches Theater in Prague, by which time Krenek had fled overseas. Karl V. has apparently still not been staged in Krenek's adopted homeland; in 1954 he revised the score for the first revival in Germany.


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 22 June 1938
(Conductor: Karl Rankl)
Emperor Charles V baritone Pavel Ludikar
Juana, his mother contralto
Eleonore, his sister soprano
Ferdinand, his brother tenor
Isabella, his wife soprano
Juan de Regla, his confessor speaking role
Henri Mathys, his physician
Jesuit, formerly the Empress' steward tenor
Alarcon, captain of the Emperor speaking role
Alba, captain of the Emperor speaking role
Frundsberg, captain of the Emperor speaking role
Imperial chancellor
Francis I, king of France tenor
Frangipani tenor
Clement VII speaking role
A cardinal speaking role
Luther baritone
A follower of Luther tenor
Moritz von Sachsen, a Protestant prince speaking role
Sultan Soliman bass
His astrologer tenor


Krenek: Karl V – Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna

  • Conductor: Gerd Albrecht
  • Principal singers: Frank Hoffmann, Hanna Schwarz, Helmut Melchert, Horst Hiestermann, Kristine Ciesinski,
  • Recording date: 14 August 1980
  • Label: Philips 6769 084 (2 LPs 106 minutes); later on Orfeo d'Or B00004YLCJ (CD)

Krenek: Karl V – Bonn Beethovenhalle Orchestra

  • Conductor: Marc Soustrot
  • Principal singers: Wolf-Dieter Streicher, David Pittman-Jennings, Martina Borst, Tom Sol, Werner Hollweg, Franziska Hirzel, Andreas Conrad, Christoph Bantzer, Anne Gjevang, Axel Medrok, Florian Mock
  • Recording date: 14 October 2000
  • Label: MD&G Records - B00005NSOB (CD)


  1. ^ Von heute auf morgen (1928) is in one act.
  2. ^ Ogdon 1972, 104, reprinted in Krenek 1974, 145.
  3. ^ The work is mentioned in almost any issue of Modern Music from 1933-1935.
  4. ^ Zenck 1985, 131.
  5. ^ Ogdon 1972, 103.
  • Amadeus Almanac, accessed 31 October 2008
  • Krenek, Ernst. Selbstdarstellung. Zürich: Atlantis-Verlag, 1948.
  • Krenek, Ernst. Horizons Circled: Reflections on My Music. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.
  • Ogdon, Will, and Ernst Krenek. 1972. "Conversation with Ernst Krenek". Perspectives of New Music 10, no. 2 (Spring-Summer): 102–10.
  • Purkis, Charlotte. "Karl V.", in: Stanley Sadie (ed.), The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, edited by Stanley Sadie, 4 vols. London: Macmillan Press, 1992. ISBN 0-333-73432-7
  • Stewart, John L. Ernst Krenek: The Man and His Music. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991. ISBN 0-520-07014-3 ISBN 0-520-07014-3
  • Tregear, Peter John. "Musical Style and Political Allegory in Krenek’s Karl V". Cambridge Opera Journal 13, no. 1 (March 2001): 55–80.
  • Zenck, Claudia Maurer. "The Ship Loaded with Faith and Hope: Krenek's Karl V and the Viennese Politics of the Thirties". Musical Quarterly 71, no. 2 (1985): 116–34.

External links

  • , called for as a backdropLast JudgmentTitian's
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