Erich Wolfgang Korngold: The Ring of Polycrates / Violanta

The world premiere of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s two one-act plays Der Ring des Polykrates and Violanta took place on March 28, 1916 in Munich’s Hoftheater. The composer was 18 at the time and had already appeared as a child prodigy at the age of 13 with the world premiere of his ballet pantomime Der Schneemann at the Vienna Hofoper. Korngold had already completed his cheerful opera Der Ring des Polykrates in 1914, which was followed immediately by the composition of the tragic opera Violanta. The sensational success of Korngold’s opera Die tote Stadt finally followed in 1920, which last premiered at the Bavarian State Opera in 2019 and caused a sensation under the musical direction of Kirill Petrenko in a production by Simon Stone and with Jonas Kaufmann and Marlis Petersen in the leading roles. This spectacle was documented on DVD and Blu-ray on the in-house label Bayerische Staatsoper Recordings. Max Reinhardt brought Korngold to Hollywood in 1934, where the composer provided the music for 19 films and thus had a lasting influence on film music.

Photo credit: George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress)