Der König Kandaules / II
Zemlinsky's interpretation of the drama, which deals with moral and aesthetic questions in a partially discursive diction, is a last analysis of the guiding idea of his works for voice, the antinomy of fantasy world and reality. Against the background of exile and the threatening catastrophe of the war, the subject acquires an extremely relevant significance. The motto with which Gide's drama begins, becomes an ambiguous message in Zemlinsky : "he who wants to keep happiness, should conceal himself well! And even more conceal his happiness from others". In the end this happiness is not only discovered but shattered. The king has been murdered, the queen unveiled, unaffected by this the courtiers toast Gyges, the new king.
Peter Ruzicka and Gerd Albrecht, the artistic directors of the Hamburg State Opera brought about the world premiere on 6 October 1996 and it was not only a final climax for the "rediscovery" of Zemlinsky but also a musicological event of consequence. Now, in addition to Berg's Lulu, Krenek's Karl V and Hindemith's Mathis der Maler, one of the few works of music-theatre created in the 1930s that acknowledges the tradition of the genre and at the same time critically analyses contemporary themes has been made accessible.