Universal Edition - Luciano Berio – Un re in ascolto

Luciano Berio

Luciano Berio
Un re in ascolto

Year of composition: 1979-1983
Subtitle: Azione musicale in 2 parti
Composer: Luciano Berio
Librettist: Italo Calvino
Original Language: Italienisch
Translator: Burkhart Kroeber
Parts: Prospero, bass-baritone
Regisseur, tenor
Freitag, actor
Protagonist, soprano
Soprano I and II
3 Singers: tenor, baritone, bass
some small parts
Choir: SATB
Soloists: soprano; mezzo-soprano; tenor; Bassbariton
Instrumentation: 3 3 4 3 - 3 3 3 1 - perc(2), acc, pno(2 players), t.sax, keyb, str
Instrumentation details:
1st flute
2nd flute
3rd flute (+picc)
1st oboe
2nd oboe
cor anglais
clarinet in Eb
1st clarinet in Bb
2nd clarinet in Bb
bass clarinet in Bb (+3rdcl(Bb))
tenor saxophone in Bb
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
3rd horn in F
1st trumpet in C
2nd trumpet in C
3rd trumpet in C
1st trombone
2nd trombone
3rd trombone
bass tuba
piano on stage (2 players)
keyboard/celesta (1 player)
violin I
violin II
Scenery: 1
Duration: 90′
Dedication: A Margherita Kalmus
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Audio Excerpt

Un re in ascolto

World Première

Location: Salzburg / Austria
Date: 07.08.1984
Orchestra: Wiener Philharmoniker
Conductor: Lorin Maazel
Scenery: Götz Friedrich
Main Soloists: Theo Adam, Heinz Zednik, Helmut Lohner, Patricia Wise, Karan Armstrong, Sylvia Greenberg, Rohangiz Yachmi, Samy Molcho, Thomas Moser, Alfred Muff, Georg Tichy, Wildhaber, Gonda, Ionescu, Sima

Work Introduction

Un re in ascolto is not an opera; it is a phase in Berio’s long farewell to the genre. He describes it in a talk with himself as follows: “The story depicts the experiences of a king who attentively learned of the calamity building up all around him and who powerlessly witnessed the progressive disintegration of his kingdom and his might.”

The king bears the name Prospero; he is distantly related to the hero of Shakespeare’s last tragedy The Tempest. The music seems to be constantly at an emotional peak, the characters singing and crying out their desperation and loneliness into the world. Only at the end does the music become calmer, resigned and bereft of illusions.


Whether or not Un Re in ascolto will travel in its present over-elaborate and extravagant form, it is an exuberant piece of music-theatre which defies the idea that the opera house is only a museum. (Edward Greenfield, The Guardian, 9 August 1984)

Unlike many other present-day composers, Berio has grasped that the theatre demands a certain boldness of gesture. His subtle and highly variegated orchestral writing testifies to a characteristically Italian gift for texture and colour, but this elaborate instrumental writing is never for a moment allowed to flounder in its own complexity. (Peter Heyworth, The Observer, 12 August 1984)

Is it permissible to enjoy an opera that defiantly does away with the narrative thread of a plot? I very much hope so, because I certainly did enjoy Luciano Berio’s Un Re in ascolto […] In the many large ensembles and choruses too, Berio’s fascinating score keeps the interest alive through a novel personal kind of harmonic atonality, and also through the effects of his inventive instrumentation. (Peter Stadlen, Daily Telegraph, 9 August 1984)

Study score

Part 1

Part 2

Libretto – Un Re In Ascolto - A King is Listening

  • Edition type: libretto
  • Language: German; Italian
  • UE17854
  • ISBN: 978-3-7024-2230-1
  • ISMN: 979-0-008-07168-3
EUR 13,50

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study score - Un re in ascolto

Un re in ascolto
  • Edition type: study score

study score - Un re in ascolto

Un re in ascolto
  • Edition type: study score

full score - Un re in ascolto

Un re in ascolto
  • Edition type: full score

study score - Un re in ascolto

Un re in ascolto
  • Edition type: study score

study score - Un re in ascolto

Un re in ascolto
  • Edition type: study score

full score - Un re in ascolto

Un re in ascolto
  • Edition type: full score

piano reduction - Un re in ascolto

Un re in ascolto
  • Edition type: piano reduction

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