Music theatre Ballet 1959 1970

The Emperor’s Nightingale (L'usignolo dell'imperatore)

Ballet pantomime by Giulio di Majo

freely adapted from the fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen

Commissioned by the Venice Biennale

Year of composition 1959
Revised version 1970
Duration 17 minutes

Dedicated to Margaret and Ludwig von Hessen

World premiere

World premiere 16. September 1959

Biennale di Venezia · Teatro La Fenice

Production Franco Enriquez
Stage design Attilio Colonnello
Dancer Fiorella Coba

Mimes of the Piccolo Teatro, Mailand

Conductor Ettore Gracis

Comments

Andersen’s tale is simply told, in a linear quick-moving style, in theatre music for a ballerina and a number of mime actors. The solo flute of course represents the nightingale, the piccolo, the noise of the mechanical bird. The other melody instruments present all the emotions of the young Emperor (still almost a child), while percussion, piano and celesta provide the atmosphere of chinoiserie. Since its creation this work has been performed several times as a flute concerto.

Hans Werner Henze

Instrumentation

1 Flauto anche Ottavino
1 Clarinetto basso
Percussione 2 Triangoli
3 Piatti sospesi
3 Tamtam
3 Tomtom
Campanella da rumba
[per 4]
Celesta
Marimba
Pianoforte
1 Viola
1 Violoncello
Versione ridotta di Henning Brauel (1970)1 Flautoanche Ottavino
Percussione2 Triangoli
3 Piatti sospesi
3 Tamtam
3 Tomtom
Marimba
Campanella da rumba
Vibrafono (ad lib.)
Campane tubolari (ad lib.)
[per 3]
Celesta
Pianoforte