The Warsaw Voice » Stage & Screen » Monthly - September 30, 2015
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What If Bach Met Handel?
Handling Bach, a play that has kicked off a new season at Warsaw’s Kamienica Theater, revolves around a fictitious meeting between two great 18th-century composers, Johannes Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel.

Both born in 1685, the two composers never met in person. But German music expert and art critic Paul Barz, who wrote the play, was curious to explore what Bach and Handel would have had to say to each other if such an opportunity had presented itself. Bach, a humble cantor at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, repeatedly tried to arrange to meet with his famed compatriot, but to no avail. Handel, who settled in London and was admired across Europe, avoided any personal encounter with Bach, to whom he was often compared.

Barz demonstrates his detailed knowledge of the two composers’ lives and the times in which they lived. The play has the two composers meet in the Turin Hotel in Leipzig in 1747.

Handling Bach is structured as a fascinating verbal duel between two musical giants. Bach (Olaf Lubaszenko) and Handel (Emilian Kamiński) have dinner by a piano and as their discussion unfolds, they are carefully watched by a witty and somewhat mysterious butler by the name of Schmidt (Maciej Miecznikowski), who turns out to be an opera lover. Barz studies the two composers’ personalities and uses their fictional encounter to contemplate problems that contemporary audiences will find surprisingly relevant, such as whether the pursuit of power and success can make anyone happy and what price people pay for fame. Aside from these serious themes, the play, directed by Krzysztof Jasiński from the STU Theater in Cracow, is an entertaining comedy with top-notch acting. It reminds viewers how fascinating theater can be.

Upcoming performances:
Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m., Oct. 10, 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Kamienica Theater; 93 Solidarności Ave.,