Moniuszko’s The Haunted Manor @ Warsaw’s Teatr Wielki

Stanisław Moniuszko is regarded as Poland’s national composer. Although Chopin is maybe the internationally most renowned one, Moniuszko’s operas are closer to the country’s heart. He composed several opéras, the most famous ones being Halka and The Haunted ManorMoniuszko style in the latter, first performed in Warsaw in 1865, includes echoes of Italian and French music (and a Meyerbeer citation), a mix of easily recognizable melodies and sensual atmospheres. The score is fully convincing but is qualitatively miles above the silly libretto. The opera includes a variety of musical forms including arias and several ensembles, and for a varied array of singers (coloratura soprano, a light tenor, a deep bass, etc) including Polish dances. This folkloric little grand-opera deserves to be better known also outside Poland. 

The greatly acclaimed staging by Pountney is minimal but was praised for including popular Polish elements and symbols. Pountney puts the plot in the 20’s and 30’s, keeps the gaiety of the libretto, works with tableaux vivants which he frames in the style of paintings and which he moves on stage. The staging is very lighthearted, full of humour and colourful and the singers are all well directed.

Straznw dwor, The Haunted Manor, is a ensemble opera. Except for the soprano and the tenor, who both have long and difficult aria’s, the opera consists mainly of ensemble pieces or shorter arias. I especially admired the nice and full voice of Elżbieta Wróblewska as Jadwiga. I liked Edyta Piasecka as Hanna though maybe the characterization was  a bit poor in dynamics. Arnold Rutkowski offered a beautifully sung Cisza dokoła, Aleksander Teliga as Skoluba was vocally very convincing in Ten zegar stary, while Adam Kruszewski has a somewhat strained voice but was much applauded in his famous polonaise Kto z mych dziewek serce której’.

Conductor-Grzegorz Nowak, Director-David Pountney, Set Designer-Leslie Travers, Costume Designer-Marie-Jeanne Lecca, Choreography-Emil Wesołowski, Lighting Designer-Fabrice Kebour, , Sword-Bearer-Adam Kruszewski, Hanna-Edyta Piasecka, Jadwiga-Elżbieta Wróblewska, Damazy-Mateusz Zajdel, Stefan-Arnold Rutkowski, Zbigniew-Wojtek Gierlach, Chmberlain’s Wife-Anna Lubańska, Skołuba-Aleksander Teliga, Maciej-Zenon Kowalski, Marta-Joanna Motulewicz, Grześ-Damian Wilma, Katarzyna Zimak, 12/05/19, pictures Krzysztof Bielinski from https://teatrwielki.pl/en/