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The Warsaw Voice » Stage & Screen » February 27, 2015
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Poles Take Opera to New York
February 27, 2015   
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A double bill of the operas Iolanta and Bluebeard’s Castle was staged Jan. 29 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, directed by Polish director Mariusz Treliński.

A joint production by the Wielki Theater/National Opera in Warsaw and the Metropolitan Opera, Treliński’s pairing of Iolanta by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Bluebeard’s Castle by Bela Bartók had its premiere in Warsaw in 2013. The version in New York City starred celebrated opera singers, including Polish tenor Piotr Beczała as Vaudemont and Russian soprano Anna Netrebko as Iolanta. The Met Orchestra was conducted by Valeriy Gergiev from Russia, and in Bluebeard’s Castle the part of Judith was sung by Nadja Michael from Germany.

The Metropolitan Opera was packed and when the show was over, the audience gave the performers a standing ovation. The performance was broadcast on almost 70 television channels around the world.

Before the curtain went up at the Met, Treliński said he had been an outsider when he first started working in opera. “I had two goals: to shatter the sentimentality and kitsch that pervaded opera and to open opera to the contemporary era, so its dynamics and temperature would match our times,” said Treliński. “I adore opera as a music genre, but I hate what’s become of it. Deaf to what is going on around us, opera has devolved into an art that belongs in a museum. It is completely devoid of contemporary esthetic trends, such as installation, truly modern painting and architecture. Combined with those, the beauty of traditional music is truly electrifying.”

Beczała, one of the production’s stars, said he hoped that the joint Polish-American staging would pave the way for Polish operas to be performed at the Met. So far, the Met has only staged a Polish opera once when Manru by Ignacy Jan Paderewski opened there in 1902. “Now is the best time for a Polish opera to be staged here again,” said Beczała. “This could possibly be The Haunted Manor and Halka by Stanisław Moniuszko or King Roger by Karol Szymanowski. Everything depends on how this cooperation works out, as aside from singers, you need to have a director, a set designer and so on, and the management also needs to show goodwill.”
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