Charles Quint van Karel Miry

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His opera had it's world premiere in 1857. On April 29 2012, after more than a Century of oblivion, it was rebaptized in Ghent, which is also the place where the action of the opera takes place.

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(14 augustus 1823 – 3 oktober 1889)
Hippoliet van Peene (1 januari 1811 – 19 februari 1864)
Wereldpremiere: Gent, 29 januari 1857
Uitvoering: 29 april 2012 (15:00)
Place: Gent, De Bijloke

Emperor Charles V: Vincent Bertrand (bt)
Van Ghest, decan of batteliers: Laurent Kubla (bt)
Marguerite van Ghest (Karel V's natural daughter, Ghests grand daughter): Amaryllis Gregoire (s)
Johan (fisherman, Marguerite's beloved): Denzil Delaere (t)
Padilla (Genuees, provost of merchants): Thomas Murk (bs)
Spanish soldeirs, officers of the Emperor, the people, farmers and their wives, bohemians en bohemiennes, gipsys, batteliers, conspirators, local noblemen, watchmen, ladies & gentlemen of the court.
Gents Opera- & Belcantokoor "Liane Soudan" o.l.v Herman Streulens
Mannenkoor 'De Oudenaarse Zangvereniging' o.l.v. Hans van Canneyt
Jeugd en Muziek Orkest Oost-Vlaanderen o.l.v. Geert Soenen

Score preparation & piano reduction: Herman Streulens!

Pour synopsis en Francais click  franceflag


With musical motives from the opera: This low resolution MP3 sample from our integral world premiere recording of April 29, 2012 perfectly shows Miry's talent as a virtuoso orchestrator:

Geert Soenen

• Dirigent Geert Soenen over de keuze voor Van Miry's Charles Quint:



The curtain rises to a view of the campement of the Spanish army before the city walls of Ghent. To the right, infront of the stage, the tent of Emperor Charles V. Behind the river Skilt, where some fishing boats can be seen floating around. In the background rises a panoramic image of Ghent.

• Geert Soenen on the fulminant first act of Charles Quint:

• Soenen on the stylistic aspects of the opera. Miry combines stylistic features of Verdi's
Nabucco with the Grand Opera of Auber, as examplified by La muette de Portici, although,
sais Soenen, there is also a remarable, lighter influence, that of French Opera Comique:

• Soenen on how the first act bears the seeds for all that follows in terms of music and plot:

Charles V before Gand

Day breaks and soldiers can be seen on guard before the imperial tent. Trumpets whistle the wake up tune. Vishermen and farmers approach with provisions. One of them is the young fisherman Johan. His joyful song sounds from behind the stage, accompanied by a piano (and not by harp, such as in Verdi's Il trovatore). He sings of the splendors of his fish and his happyness in the aria “Vogue, vogue, barque legere”.

When the soldiers leave, the campement fills with with farmers and their wives, praising their products in the excuberant choir “Voici le jour qui vient de naitre”. 

Vincent Bertrand12

The Emperor appears, escorted from his chapelain. He sings a short but triumphant allegro martiale: “Fiere cite de Gand”.

Andermaal een mp3 sample genoemn uit onze integrale opname, zoals verkrijgbaar in de downloadsectie:

He exclaims that the proud and rebellious city has risen against him, but predicts that its city walls, for all theri mockery, will soon bow to his iron will and splendour. In spite of this self assured attitude, the emperor is in gloomy mood, even a bit confused. Th e reason are recurring nightmares that haunt him in his sleep. In his beautiful, lyrical romance dramatique “Toujours en proie aux funebres songes’, he describes his feelings as follows: "When I command all of Europe trembles, but at night I suffer from fears as a child. I see thunder and lightning, and the ground seems to dissapear below my feet, while the vengevul arms of the dead reach out for me."

The emperor begs the Almight for mercy, sine he can't get rid of his dream. At that point, from afar, resounds the joyful colorature voice of Marguerite Van Ghest, granddaughter of the leader of Ghent's batteliers.

Marguerite van Ghest (Margereta odf Austria) disguised as gypsy

She has disguised herself as a bohemien and comes in between a band of gyspsies. She foretells all a resplendant future. The Emperor is touched by her voice, and asks who is singing so bautifully before him: “Eh mais, ce chant si doux qui charme mon oreille, n’est - ce pas la voix sans pareille de la Bohemienne au regard seduisant?”

Hoping they can drive out his fears, the emperor summons the gypsies before him. Their song and dance should distract him. Marguerite chants happyly from her gift, which is topredict one's future. The Emepror calls for a canape from which he can enjoy the entertainment, whcih culminates in a typical Fench Grand opera ballet: “Pas bohemien”

Tenor Denzil Delaere who sings fisherman Johan in the Lyrica Gand premiere of Karel Miry's 'Charles Quint' (© 2012 Denzil Delaere)

Still in disguise, Marguerite sings a splendid bolero larded with spectacular coloratura passages: “Je suis enfant de la boheme”. In de mp3 sample afkomstig uit onze complete opname kan de virtuositiet van sopraan Amaryllis Gregoire worden bewonderd:

In it she sings to be able to explain any given mystery. The Emperor is delighted with her appearance, but Johan, her beloved, is confused to see her here in this strange disguise. He asks her for an explanation, but Marguerite tells him that it is not the time or the place to explain her actions. This scene is followed by the sparkling ensemble allegretto in which Marguerite, the emepror Charles Quint, Johan and the soldiers celebrate the moment: "Le sort sourit a mon projet."


Fate seems to smile upon Marguerite. In the inn of her father, she has caught word of the dreams of the Emperor, which she immediately understood. She wants to intervene in the plot against him. While Johan's confusion is growing, Emepror Charles Quint regains his self confidence. Along with his soldiers, he celebrates the appearance of the enchanting “bohemienne.”

In a short recitative, Charles Quint asks Marguerite to explain him his dreams. Marguerite assures him that he is asking the right person, since the future is her speciality! Johan watches the scene with growing unrest, but maintains his composture.

Charles V (1620 Anthony van Dyck)

Het ensemble wordt hervat en het allegro agitato evoceert de verschrikking van demonen, monsters en spoken uit de dromen van Keizer Karel V. Hieronder een mp3 sample van deze nachtmerriescene uit onze complete opname, vertolkt door bariton Vincent Bertrand:
The interrupted ensemble restarts with an allegro agitato that evokes the terrifying demons, monsters and ghosts that haunt the Emepror at night. His despair seems to forecast similar later scnes like the one in Boris Godunov. Marguerite's impressive warning to the Emperor in her very dramatic scene "Prenez garde et prudence car ce que ma science vous predira arrivera,” once again seems to have drawn inspiration from Azucena from Verdi's Il trovator (which was given its french language premiere in Paris in January of the same year that Charles Quint was premiered, and it is not unlikely that Karel Miry attended this premiere).

• Geert Soenen over Karels droom:

Marguerite (Margeita of Austria as fortune teller (The fortune teller ? Painting byKimbell)

In her subsequent virtuoso ballade with male choir accompanyment “Quand le ciel est pur”, which is decorated with spectacular coloratura runs, she tells Charles Quint that what she foretells will also happen.

The start of the allegro martiale that concludes the finale of Act I, revies the Emperor's courage. He thanks Marguerite for her song, her advice and her loyalty. A strange bond is created between the two, although Marguerite runs off at the first sound of the trumpets that announce the magistrates and the noble men of Ghent, among whom she knows is also her grandfather Van Ghest. The administrators of the city offer the Emeror the keys to the city in the chorus, “Au nom de la cite soumise." The promise to bow down before his will and offer their loyal service. The Emperor acets their signs of submission, but warns them that tomorrow he willm appear before their tribunes with scepter and sword. Van Ghest whispers to himself: "Tomorrow you will pay!"

The Spanish army chants a conlusive, victorious hymn “Chantons la victoire." In the background, the defilee of the Spanish army can be seen.


Herberg de Rode Toren © 2009 VIOE (

On Friday's market,at inn “De rode Toren” (The Red Tower – this building still stands today, at the corner of Vrijdagmarkt and Kammerstraat). Front left, a spiral stairways descends in a tower, the interior of which is visible to the audience, but not to those on
stage. Night falls.

A variation on a theme from the overture described the tragic figure of old Van Ghest, the Flemish inn keeper.Below we added three excerpts from the orchestral introduction, filmed at the very first Act II rehearsals with the Yout Music Orchestra of East-Flanders, conducted (and instructed) by Geert Soenen:

Alone in the inn, he hopes to avenge himself on the former Prince, now Emperor Charles V. While still price, Charles abused Van Ghest's hospitality to abuse his daughter. Van Ghest sings his recitative and aria: “J’ai vu passer vingt ans sur ma tete blanchie… Pauvre fleur au printemps brise.” Sung in larghetto tempo, it transforms into a cabaletta-like allegro agitato: “Oui, je veille, et sur ma tete, prince infame et sans foi”.

Karl V with his mistress Johanna van der Gheynst (detail) © Paleis voor Schone Kunsten Gent)


In this scene Van Ghest recalls how his daughter died while giving birth to Marguerite, the child that Charles V left her with. As a consequence, Van Ghest raised Marguerite as if she were his own child, hiding the truth for her in order to spare her the shame.

Marguerite as baby

The shame has meanwhile tortured and poisoned his heart, causing him immense grief. Faced with a triumphant Charles V, on the verge of reclaiming his supremation over Ghent, Van Ghest is determined to erase the shame caused upon him and his offspring by killing the infamous Emperor. His vengeful thoughts are interrupted by the arrival of Johan, who still worries about the strange behavior of his fiancee Marguerite. Graciously, he sings to Van Ghest about having arrived on his doorstep to find some repose: “Je viens prendre chez toi, notre digne doyen, un instant de repos," of which we present here a brief excerpt, filmed during the first rehearsals for Act II, with tenor Denzil Deleare in the role of Johan:

Seeing Van Ghest so sorrowful, he decides it is not the right moment to discuss his own worries with his father in law. Van ghest brings him a beer while excusing himself for not joining him for a toast, since he has to leave. Marguerite, his daughter, will keep Johan company in the inn. While waiting for her arrival, Johan sings his beautiful love aria, “Dieu des amours.” In the aria he implored God to help him regarding his doubts and fears about Marguerites loyalty. Again in an excerpt from the very first Act II rehearsals, here a fragment in whcih conductor Geert Soenen demonstrated to Delaire how he envision this fragment stylistically:

Subsequently, we pride here the full aria, which serves both to demonstrate the beauty of Miry's music, as well as the gorgeous instrumetn of Delaire, a fine lyrical tenor with a true 'timbatura':

Marguerite descends the stairs  2010 Susan 10 (

Marguerite descends the spiral chairs, a burning lamp in hand. Finding herself alone with her suitor, she engages in a teasing duet, “Je ris de sa jalousie” (this precedes Offenbach's Orphee aux Enfers). She evades his questions though, telling him that it is not the right moment to answer them. Subsequently, friends, soldiers and collegues of Van ghest arrive in hightened spirits. In their choir “Gais bateliers” they rudely flirt with Marguerite, asking her for a kiss or two: “Moi je veux un baiser. Moi, j’en veux deux”. Margruerite mocks them in “De grace, laissez – moi!,” while the jealous and angry Johan erupts in rage: “Quelle audace! Bateliers, assez, finissez!” All fall silent upon Van Ghest's entry. He order beer for the fighters and sends Marguerite off. Since he is on the verge of an 8 day trip out of town, Johan implores Marguerite one last time to reveal her secret, but she leaves upon the promise that he shall have the answer when he returns.

Laurent Kubla (bt) who sings Van Ghest in the Lyrica Gent premiere of Karel Miry's opera Charles Quint (© 2012 Laurent Kubla)

The soldiers rejoice once again in their chorus, “Gais bateliers." one of them summons Van ghest to chant its popular refrain that they once 'taught' the Spanish to sing during their revolt, “Le Chant de la Revolte.” That was the song of their uprising against Charles V.

Dat is het lied van de opstand, waarvan hier een mp3 sample uit onze complete opname:

The soldiers join in with the so called Couplets de Van Ghest, “L’Espagne aux Espagnols et la Flandre aux Flamands!” The text leaves little to the imagination in terms of theri feelings:

“Now that Ghent will beg
The tyrant for mercy tomorrow;
Now our once friece squares will resound
With your chants of praise for the one,
Who oppresses us and has taken our freedom away,
Now hurry
Brave Spaniard,
Hurry out!
We challenge your despotic rle,
Your infamous sceptre
Will be shattered.
While we chaste you off of our lands.
Spain to the Castilians,
Flanders to the Flemish!”

The atmosphere gets heated until the clocks of night summon all to go home. Van ghest remains alone, singig his great monologue, “Enfin ils sont parties.” He recalls how he has found some conspirators that will help him in his plot against the Emperor. Like him, they want to avenge their lsot ones, instead of submitting themselves along with the rest of the city to the will of the opressor. They are sworn to revenge without mercy for the criminal.

Horns sound the arrival of the Genovese leader of the conspirators, Padilla. Van Ghest receives them happily, proud to have been accepted in their midst. Being an Italian, Padilla proves an expert in treason and poisoning enemies, which is also the method he recommends to get rid of Charles V. Above the stairs, Marguerite has arrived, overhearing the plot. Since she can't see those below, she doesn't notice that her father, Van Ghest, is among them. Startled, she cries out and runs off.

MargueriteVan Ghest

Her little cry is duly noted by Padilla, but Van Ghest tells him that there is no one upstairs, and that it was the storm blowing outside. In a hymnic couplets dramatiques duet, Van Ghest and Padilla celebrate the dawn of their vengeance: “Pour la patrie et pour l’honneur”.

Coat of arms Gand

The conspirators disband. Van Ghest remains behind, alone and filled with happyness, he sings of the moment that is near, the hour that he will be appeased: “O vengeance! Demain, demain! O bonheur! O vengeance!” From afar sounds the oice of the departing Johan, who sings from his fishing boat. 


Gand, square of the Friday Market

Ghent. Square of the Friday Market.

An impressive “Martiale brillante” accompanies the entry of the Emperor into Ghent. This March is dominated by the same quarter-jumps that marked the entry of the trumpets in the Overture.

Dan zingt Chales V het volk toe in zijn mololoog "Peuple de Gand', waarvan hier een mp3 fragment uit onze integrale opname:

De notables and soldiers chant in choir, “Houra!” Then the moment arrives where Charles V raises the glass of wine  that the noblemen have given him in order to propose a toast to his victory. Marguerite jumps in between and takes the glass away from Charles. A grand largetto ensemble follows, in whcih Charles starts the melody solo, “Quel est cet etrange mystere?” Marguerite joins in with one of the dramatic climaxes of the score, “Le ciel exaucant ma priere a comble les voeux de mon coeur. Aux coups d’un complot sanguinaire je viens d’arracher l’Empereur.” Padilla and Van Ghest have their own ideas about the cause of events in “Fille imprudente et temeraire!" The ensemble concludes with a tutti, in whcih the people of Ghent join in.

In an allegro agitato passage, Charles V then asks for clarification. Marguerite provides the answer when she reveals the plot to poison him. Charles summons the nobles to drink from the wine, and when they refuse to drink, he has them captured and send off to the henkerman. A whirling finale concludes the act, “Une pareille offense appelle la vengeance”.

It is only then that Marguerite discovers that her father is one of the conspirators. In shock, she faints and falls to the ground.



The prison, where Van Ghests awaits his trial.

From the prison chapel an intimate choir of death row prisoners resounds, accompanied by an organ: “Prions, prions, mes freres pour ceux qui vont mourir”.

Bijgevoegd fragment uit de officiele integrale opname toont Miry's vermogen contrasterende sferen effectief tegenover elkaar te zetten, teneinde tot een La forza del destino-achtige verdieping te komen:

This is followed by a sorrowful farewl duet between Van Ghest and Marguerite, who has arrived to visit him. She begs him to fogive her, since she has unwillingly caused his misfortune and imminent death: “Mon pere! - Toi, dans ces lieux! Temeraire!” On bended knees, she asks him to kill her rather than to renounce on her. Instead of forgiving her, Van Ghest reads the verdic to her:

“In a long row they will proceed
From City Hall to the Prince's Palace
With bare heads and on bare feet,
Dressed in a long white cloack.
Mocked and cast out,
They will be beheaded on the square
They will fall to the axe of the henkerman“
Leave me now,
I have nothing more to expext than the axe.
What use is fighting now,
Now that nothing can do me justice.
Be happy that for all your begging
My heart doesn't curse you.
Don't follow me
On my way to death!”

A plea that doesn't fall well with the girl, who continues to be for forgiveness:

“See my suffering.
Do not torture me thus,
I won't abandon you,
I shall follow your path.
But you won't die!”

In despair she clings to Van Ghest, who pushes her aside, leaving her behind in grief.

Monks chant can be heard from the chapel, “Prions , prions mes freres”. It spreads the scent of death. Marguerite then turns to the Holy Virgin Maria, in a tormented recitatieve, “Malheureuse, ah, la forse m’abbandonne”. Trembling with fear, she feels her heart break, which is fullye xpressed in the aria, “Inspire-moi, Vierge immortelle." While thus praying for a solution that can save her father from the axe, she is touched by a ray of courage, love and inspiration. An unkown voice – is it God himself – consoles her by acknowledging her innocence. A feeling that she can't cimprehend led her to intervene on behalf of the Emperor, to whom she is drawn by a mysterious force, and against her better knowledge. It is then thatMarguerite realises that, as his saviour, she might stand a chance when begging him to have mercy on her father.

Hier wererom een fragment uit onze integrale opname:

In the cabaletta of this impressive, enchanting aria, her courage is suddenly restored: “Ah, deja l’esperance vient briller a mes yeux – Holy Virgin, i will save him! Ah, come and lead me!"
While the stage changes, Marguerite rushes off.



Ghent, the Imperial Palace

The Emperor throws a festive party in the Imperial Palace, the so called Prinsenhof. After the dances, the festive chorus chants “Chant d’amour, chant de gloire,” which commemorates the happy childhood that the Emperor spend in Ghent. Charles expresses his delight over these souvenirs in his lyrical recitative and aria, “Je revois ce palais... Tout ici me rappelle un vivant souvenir.” His exclamations are interrupted by the arrival of Marguerite. While Van Ghest and the conspirators are brought before the emperor, awaiting their imminent excecution, Marguerite kneels down before Charles, imploring his mercy on her father, Van Ghest: “Grace, mon souverain, ecoute ma priere…”

A majestic trio et morceau d’ensemble follows between Marguerite, Johan en Charles, who are later joined by Padilla, Van Ghest and the chorus. However, the Emperor refuses to save her father, which leads Margeurite to a desperate act. A la Tosca, but then 43 years earlier (!), she jumps off the balcony in order to drown herself in the river Skilt.


“You killed her!”, shouts Van Ghest to the Emperor:

“Thus you rewards the goodness
Of your savior!
Have you any idea who that girl was?
Close to Oudenaarde you were once welcomed
By a lonely old man
He opened up his house to you
And as a reward he had to face how you took his beloved daughter's honor and innocence.
She died while giving birth to the fruit of your vile act
And I, who was her father, adopted the girl
While swearing to avenge her mother.”

Stupefied, Emperor Charles V replies, “Est-ce un reve? Et cet enfant, acheve.” Van Ghest replies, “Tu viens de la tuer”.

Een aangeslagen Keizer Karel antwoordt, “Est-ce un reve? Et cet enfant, acheve”, waarop hier het laatste mp3 fragment uit onze integrale opname:

Van Ghest repliceert, “Tu viens de la tuer”.

As a Deus ex machina the chorus erupts in joyful song, singing “Plus de larmes, plus de detresse. Un pecheur vient au secours.” By a stroke of fortune, fisherman Johan returned just in time to fish his beloved Marguerite from the river, before she drowned. Charles now realises the full impact of the proceedings.


When Marguerite regains her consciousness, Charles implores her to forgive him, in the expressive duet, “O mon enfant, pardonne moi." Stunned, Marguerite then learns that Charles is in fact her father, and Van Ghest her grandfather. Falling into Charles' arms, she joins him in the joyful duet, “Celeste bonheur qui brille et rayonne!” Charles instructs those present to greet Marguerite with a new title, the one of “Marguerite d’Autriche et princesse royale” (Her Royal Highness Princess Margarete of Austria). Johan fears that this implies the end of their union, but Charles assures him that he has nothing to fear in, “et si ton courage un jour a ton amour fidele peut ennoblir ton coeur, tu sera son epoux.”. In a Royal solo he then pardons all, exclaiming, “Gantois comme vous, je reste votre frere et qu’a ce titre seul je dois vous pardonner.”

In a hymnic, almost defiant but typically Flemish, joyful chant final, all praise the newfound friendship between Flanders and Spain: “Qu’en ce jour d’allegresse chacun soit en liesse ensemble Castillans, chantons Flandre et Flamands.”


Le Grand Theatre Gand where Charles Quint was premiered in January 1857

Grand Opera House of Ghent, where Charles Quint was premiered in January 1857.

Geert Soenen over de nationalistische ondertoon van de opera. Hij vertelt dat Van Miry en tekstdichter Hippoliet van Peene ook tekenden voor het Vlaamse volkslied, "De Vlaamse Leeuw". Zij besloten Charles Quint dus feitelijk met een parafrase daarop. Op zichzelf geen stunt, ware het niet dat Charles Quint in de grote Opera ten doop werd gehouden, die, in tegenstelling tot die voor het Vlaams gepeupel, bevolkt werd door de toenmalige Franse elite. Soenen: "En die Franse elite applaudisserde dan voor de frase "Vlaanderen voor de Vlamingen!"

• Dat de opera een groot succes was is duidelijk uit de goede kritieken en het gegeven dat het succes zich herhaalde gedurende uitvoeringen in Mons, waar Van Miry de kritiek op de lengte van zijn opera ter harte bleek te hebben genomen door een verkorte versie te presenteren:

GS, HdS, RS 


Joanna the Mad of Castille with her children Karl V & sister

When Ghent celebrated the birth of the future Emperor Charles V on February 24, 1500, the celebating crown before the Prinsenhofthere could not have guessed that their newborn Royal baby would come to rule over an empire in whcih the sun never set. Even less so, could they have guessed that a mere 15 years onwards, this son of archduke Filips the Fair and Joan the Mad would enact the humiliating terms of peace that Ghent was forced to sign at Cadzand in 1492, bafter it lsot the war with Maximilian I. Charles needed this money to finance his endless string of wars. Finally, the people of Ghent would not have believed that their own son would eventually appear before their gates, in 1540, in order to brutally opress a revolt against him, after which he would have the city walls tore down, while building an imperial castle to make sure the rebellious spirit of Ghent would never see the light of day again.

The uprise of 1537

Charles V by Orley

Already in the Centruy before Charles was born, Ghent suffered from ongoing economic setbacks, due to the decline in profits from their prime business the cloth trade. To long the local nobility clang to its middle aged privileges, which weakened the city's position in a
landscape that saw the quick rise of free trade besetting the feudal old social structures. More and more, the people of Ghent protested the suffocating taxes that Charles V demanded of them since 1515, which culminated in the uprising of the proletarians in 1537. Charles marionets were replaced by the guilds, who were supported by the poor. Next, the city refused to contribute to Charles war against King Francois I of France. By 1540, Charled
answer arrived in the shape of an enormous army, led by himslef, which appeared before Ghent's ciy walls. Given the choice between being plundered or unconditional surrender, Ghent's nobility chose the latter. It is at this point in the historic cause of events that the opera of Charles Miry and Hippoliet van Peene begins.

Van Ghest till Gheynst to Gheenst

Van Peene precedes his libretto with the note that it wasn't his aim to recreate history, but rather to create an effectful opera based on elements of the relationship between Charles V and the city of Ghent. The first of his theatrical liberties, concerns the figure of Van Ghest. This was in fact a historical figure, known as Johan van der Gheenst (or Gheynst), and indeed the father of Johanna van der Gheenst († Brussels 1542), Keizer Karel with his mistress Johanna van der Gheynst at the birth of their daughter, Margaretha van Parma © Paleis voor Schone Kunsten Gent)

who was the mother of Charles V's extramarital daughter Margaretha (Marguerite in the opera). Van Gheenst was not an inn keeper though, but rather a tapestry vendor in service of governor Charles I of Lalaing. Apparently, Van Peene judged the change of profession usefull, as it made a more natural setting for a conspiration, as well as a perfect setting for some folkloristic choruses. 

Historically correct is the fact that Charles V came under the spell of Johanna van der Gheenst, when he met her at a ball in the house of his chamberlain, lalaing. Their meeting in the Spring of 1521 resulted in Johanna's giving birth to their daughter on December 28 of the same year.As is clear from the painting of a happy Johanna, strethcing her arm out to the healthy child, while Charles stands beside her, it is claer that she did not die while giving birth, as the opera has it. Apparently, Van Peene gave way here to the common desire of composers to set hightened dramatic situations to music.

However, Margarethe's parents both died of the plague while she was only 5 years old. As an orphin, though, margaretha was not aised by grand father Van ghest as the oepra has it, but adopted into the care of chamberlain Lalaing's household.

Margaretha vof Austria, Duchess of Parma, Governess of the Netherlands

Margarete von Parma (1522-1586)(Anthonis Mor van Dashorst 1562)

Urged by Lalaing, Charles V recognized Margaretha as his lawful child on July 9, 1829, lending her the honorary title 'of Austria'. In this respect, the conclusion of the opera returns to historic facts, although this titling is confucing, given that Charles' aunt, the sister of his father Philips the Fair, bore the same title. They are now easily confused, also because, due to her 1538 marriage with Ottavio Farnese, duke of Parma, Margaretha bacame most widely known as Margheretha of Parma, and since 1559 also as Governess of The Netherlands for Philips II, after he traded The Netherlands for Spain.

With the support of the Dutch Landlords, Margaretha succeeded in surpressing the revolution, although she could not stop the success of the reformation in The Netherlands. Therefore, her half brother Philips II eventually replaced her with the notorious Duke of Alva, who arrived to The Netherlands in 1567. Confronted with Alva, the revolt started again, now with partial success. By 1878, Alva made way for Margaretha's son Alessandro Farnese, who became the next governor of The Netherlands. Alessandro was a brilliant general, a gifted diplomat and a tolerant man, who might have succeeded in recaptering the lost ground in The Netherlands, had not Philips sent him elsewhere to battle. As for our Margaretha, she actually dreamed to return to The Netherlands as Governess to rule together with her son, but he had her stopped on the way and send back to Italy, where she died in 1586.

The noose bearers

Charles V with his English Water Dog (1532 Jakob Seisenegger)

While the plot that Van Peene coocked up around the angry, dishonored grand father and an Emperor who unlimately 'discovered' that the girl who saved him was his own child, derived wholly to Van Peene's imagination, the knee fall made by the nobility before Charles in the Prinsenhof is a historic fact. First, he excecuted the apparent instigators of the revolt, not the opera's 'Van Ghest' but rather Jan de Vocht, Pieter van Aerde, Chaerle…, Lieven van Doorne and Lieven Gheerts. They were beheaded and their corpses were driven around for 3 days, to make sure that the citizens would understand Charles' idea of who 'owned' Ghent correctly. Next, he humiliated the surviving local leaders, noblemen and guild members, when, on April 19, 1540, he ordered them to walk barefoot to his Prinsenhof Palace, the poor even with a noose around their neck as a symbol of the punishment they deserved to have. Once arrived before Charles V, the citizens of Ghent had to kneel down before him and was made to beg for their mercy. Subsequently, Charles had the walls of the city destroyed, while he erected a fearsome castle that served to keep Ghent far from ever conspiring against him

Charles ‘The Good’

 Charles V (1532 Amberger)Ever since that humiliation, Ghent has had a double faced relationship with their famous son. The humiliation would never be forgotten and till this very day the city's inhabitants call themselves 'noose bearers', in defiance of the act they had to suffer for their brave resistance. Durig the annual Ghentian Festivities (once forbidden by Charles V, when they became political manifestations, mocking his reign), the people still wear the noose in procession, to remind the world of the actions that took place there in 1540. Yet, at the end, the opera also makes clear that Charles V subsequently brought about a turn for the better, since he ended the power of the guilds, giving way to more free trade which led to more prospering afterwards. Finally, Charles wanted to be remembered for a true gift to his city of birth rather than the opressive castle he had built, and therefore he ordered the digging out of the Sassevaart, a direct channel that lined Ghent to the West-Skilt Sea.

On October 25, 1555, he voluntarily gave up his crown in The Netherlands in favor of his son, Philips II. At the time, this was a unique act. Charles died on September 1558 in the Spanish village of Yuste, where he passed his time with gardening and fishing from his balcony.

Jan Neckers
Roelof Posthuma
Rene Seghers
Hilaire de Slagmeulder
Geert Soenen


• Memorieboek der stad Ghent van 't jaar 1301 tot 1793. Deel 2 (C. Annoot-Braeckman, Gent 1854. Bewerking: Andreas van Heule, 2011)
• Preface to Charles Quint (1857, Hippoliet van Peene)
• Apologie van een Rebelse stad (Decavele J. e.a., Antwerpen 1989, 107-113.)
• Keizer Karel achterna: Gent in de eerste helft van de 16de eeuw (Van Bruwaene C., Gent, Dienst voor culturele zaken, 1990)
• Keizer tussen stropdragers: Karel V (1500-1558) (Decavele J. e.a.., Leuven 1990)


vb3Charles Quint (Audio)
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lk5Charles Quint (Video)
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Componist: Robin de Raaff (1968)
Opera: Waiting for Monroe
9 juni 2012
11,12, 13, 15, 16 juni

Marilyn Monroe: Laura Aikin
Gable: Alain Coulombe
Joe: Tom Randle
Norma Jeane: Hendrickje Van Kerckhove
Fox: Dale Duesing
John F. Kennedy: John Tessier
Robert F. Kennedy: Daniel Belcher
Eve: Maria Kowan
Paula: Helena Rasker
Whitey: David DQ Lee

Nederlands Kamerorkest o.l.v. Steven Sloane
Regie: Lotte de Beer
Scenografie: Clement & Sanou
Librettto: Janine Brogt

De Nederlandse Opera
Waterlooplein 1, Amsterdam (NL)

Binnenkort volgt een uitgebreide voorbeschouwing van Waiting for Monroe. Medio 23 april hebben wij een exclusief interview met Robin de Raaff, dat wij begin mei zullen presenteren op het moment dat De Raaff componist van de maand wordt.RdR: