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The Ring of Polykrates
PREMIERE3/28/1916 — Nationaltheater München
COMPOSERErich Wolfgang Korngold   
LIBRETTISTFrancesco Antonio Tullio   
 
Synopsis
The opera takes place on an afternoon in the autumn of 1797 in a minor Saxon residence. Florian and Lieschen, employed as a musician and chambermaid in the services of Wilhelm and his wife Laura, wish to get married, but how should they announce their intentions to their employers? Wilhelm and Laura have been happily married for the past two years, but Laura is thrown into a state of distress by the news that Wilhelm's old friend Vogel will be coming to stay. She finds the passage in her diary describing her former infatuation with this man who was even then endearingly awkward. When Vogel becomes aware of his friend's happiness with Laura in his attractive residence, he advises him to make a sacrifice. Taking advise from a newly published almanac citing Friedrich Schiller's ballad The Ring of Polycrates where the victorious ruler throws his most valued ring into the sea to appease the gods, Wilhelm is instructed to imitate the ancient hero and gamble with what is most loved and treasured by him – this being the only way to retain his most treasured object. Wilhelm agrees to this strange and playful rite and initiates his first ever quarrel between him and Laura. In imitation of his master, Florian does the same and tests the love of his Lieschen. Following a turbulent scene featuring a slap in the face, alternating passages from Schiller's poem and Laura's diary and a ring flung out of a window, the married couple are reconciled and Lieschen and Florian are permitted to wed each other. Both couples immediately identify Mr Vogel as their sacrificial offering and turn him out of the residence.
MOST PRODUCED SINCE 2000
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This work ranks as the #281 most produced North American title since 2000.
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