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Can 2019/2020 season in the Krakow Opera surprise you?

3 September 2019

Ariadne on Naxos”, photo by Jacek Jarczok

The 2019/2020 season should satisfy both those who expect to be taken for a sentimental journey to the past and those hungry for experiments. Four premieres outline a wide stylistic, historical, and genre horizon whose borders stretch from Jacques Offenbach to Arthur Honegger. You may find some of them unexpected!

Ever since the Krakow Opera gained its own venue, a ballet will for the first time inaugurate the fall season. It will be Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. “In my interpretation, Shakespeare’s comedy takes the form of a ballet,” says Giorgio Madia, Italian choreographer known to The Krakow Opera audience form the ballet rendition of Rossini’s Cinderella (2010) and the rich choreography for Orpheus and Eurydice by Ch. W. Gluck (2013). “The neoclassical Greek stage design will be turned upside down and altered into an Elizabethan forest. It is there, where, as in a labyrinth, the characters will be lost, searched for, and found during a sensual and midsummer night abounding in events. Marcin Nałęcz-Niesiołowski is the music director. The premiere is scheduled for 25 October. The production was co-financed by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage from the Culture Promotion Fund.

A little over a month later, on 6 December, The Krakow Opera will for the first time stage a work by Arthur Honegger –  “Joan of Arc at the Stake (1938) with a libretto by the great Paul Claudel. The work, escaping the simple genre classifications, was named by its author as a stage oratorio. In the account of the final moments of the future patron of France, spoken and sung dialogues are interwoven, and the orchestra is enriched by numerous additional wind instruments and two pianos, as well as the ondes Martenot, an electronic instrument which was a great innovation in the times of Honegger. The production is directed by Monika Strzępka, the artist known for drama theatre shows which have become a subject of heated discussions. The author of music for the show is Tomasz Tokarczyk.

Next March those longing for catchy, light melodies, intelligent humour and ambitious entertainment will be satisfied as  “Orpheus in the Underworld by Jacques Offenbach will become yet another Krakow operetta stage jewel. The hilarious reinvention of a myth which was the subject of the first surviving opera in the history of music (Euridice by Jacopo Peri, 1600). Offenbach portrays Orpheus and Eurydice as a married couple, bored with each other and searching for thrills outside of marriage with the interference of the Olympian gods. The staging is directed by Włodzimierz Nurkowski, whose last joint production of Giacomo Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci was very well received. Stage designer Anna Sekuła and choreographer Violetta Suska completed a well coordinated production team. The orchestra will be conducted by Tomasz Tokarczyk.

The audiences visiting the Krakow Opera regularly are aware that the Summer Festival could only be inaugurated with a premiere. Don Carlos, an opera classic by the master of the genre Giuseppe Verdi, will be performed inJune 2020. The production is directed by Laco Adamik and the stage design will be the work of his frequent collaborator, Barbara Kędzierska. Tomasz Tokarczyk is the author of the musical layer.

Ballet, dramatic oratorio, operetta and opera classics – this is the aforementioned wide horizon, on which, apart from premieres, one can see a myriad of repertoire productions which remain as popular as ever: NormaCarmenMadame ButterflyToscaLa BohemeLa traviataThe Barber of SevilleAriadne on NaxosThe Nutcracker (in December, of course, near Christmas).

One of the vital activities of the Krakow Opera is staging productions outside of its venue, that is, in the historical architecture of Krakow or the picturesque landscapes Małopolska is known for. Plenary performances marvel with their use of the surrounding nature which becomes a part of the stage design, and an effective way of popularising the opera and gaining new audiences. On 7 September 2019, the Krakow Opera will once again visit Lanckorona where  “The Haunted Manor by Stanisław Moniuszko will be presented. The performance is organised by the Terra Artis Association and co-organised by the Commune of Lanckorona, Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera, and the Krakow Opera. On 24 September in Sanok, during the 29th Adam Didur Festival, the Opera will stage Gaetano Donizetti’s  “Don Pasquale” – the first opera directed by Jerzy Stuhr.

The theatre will also present concerts the audiences have long awaited. The first, entitled  “At the Corner of Lubicz and Borowicka Streets, is planned for 14 September 2019. The artists will pay tribute to the great primadonna of the Krakow opera and operetta stage, Iwona Borowicka, on the 35th anniversary of her death and 65th anniversary of her debut. The event is co-organised by Stowarzyszenie Radosny Senior (The Happy Senior Society). Moreover, audiences will be able to enjoy New Year’s Eve’s, New Year’s and Carnival concerts.

Pieśń – Teatr Słowa ( “Song – The Theatre of the Word) is a special cycle of concerts organised by Katarzyna Oleś-Blacha. Vocal lyrical music will be further explored throughout this season – we are currently working on inviting Ewa Podleś, a grand and versatile singer whose voice is considered one of few true contraltos in the world.

The theatre did not forget about its youngest spectators. Some of the productions have been staged in our Opera for years. These are, for instance, Music and Magic, a musical journey through well-known and appreciated fairy tales, and  “Mr Tralaliński, a show for children between 6 and 10 in which music created by extraordinary contemporary Polish composers – Witold Lutosławski, Tadeusz Baird or Karol Szymanowski – is presented in an attractive and encouraging manner. Ongaku: The Three Stones, an innovative family spectacle adapted for audience members with hearing, visual and locomotor disabilities, remains in the repertoire, as well.

All these works will resonate in the Krakow Opera even louder and clearer than before thanks to renovation works which we are carrying out right now. Orchestra pit is being modernised to improve acoustics by installing innovative adjustable panels and systems. Works are carried out in cooperation with AGH University of Science and Technology and make it possible to adapt acoustics to the character and style of the performed music.

The new season will come to an end in July 2020 with the 24th Krakow Opera Summer Festival. The artists will once again visit the Wawel castle to stage the annual World Opera Arias concert as well as the planned Anna Bolena by Geatano Donizetti.