Into the Byzantine Court of King Roger, a Shepherd comes, singing wild songs of sensual abandon. It's blasphemy, but Queen Roxanne is intrigued. This music tells us how. Szymanoski's zany sensuality is so perfumed that it's narcotic. Yet this opera is more than a gorgeous swoon. A sacrificial fire consumes the court and the Shepherd appears a supernatural manifestation of Dionysus. King Roger, who's dedicated his life to church, state and propriety tears his heart out as a new dawn rises.
Lots about Szymanowski on this site. Here is my review of the Bregenz production, the only Krol Roger as yet on DVD. Much better though, get the recordings, by Simon Rattle with Thomas Hampson, Jacek Kaspzck (Piotr Beczala sings the Shepherd) and Antoni Wit. And HERE is my review of Szymanowski's Third Symphony at the Barbican, second of three performances this year. I've written about Jurowski, and Juliet Williams will be writing about Gergiev's.