New Face of ‘Cracovians and Highlanders’

Opera Academy

New Face of ‘Cracovians and Highlanders’

Władysław Kłosiewicz, music director of A Miracle, or Cracovians and Highlanders, talks about the unfamiliar face of Jan Stefani’s music…

Agnieszka Topolska: It’s not the first time you’re staging Cracovians and Highlanders …?

Władysław Kłosiewicz: Yes, my first production of the opera was put on more than a dozen of years ago at the Warsaw Chamber Opera (WOK). For decades after the opera had been written different alternations and changes had been introduced to the score giving it a heavy, symphonic sound. Yet at some point voices appeared saying that 17th and 18th scores should be arranged with the use of the means that had been available to the composers when writing the piece. This approach inspired the experiment at WOK, which gave Warsaw’s audience the first production of the opera that used historical instruments, returning to the original sound of the work. 

AT: What does it take to recreate Stefani’s music faithfully?

WK: In this case you need a smaller set of instruments in lower tunung than those used today. Highland melodies acquire a completely new flavour if played on instruments from Stefani’s times, e.g. violin with catgut strings and bows offering different possibilities of articulation than the present ones. Wind instruments sound differently as well. We’ve also introduced harpischords playing basso continuo. This had already been becoming an outdated practice in the 18th century, and there is no evidence that harpsichords had been used in the score of Cracovians, but their use is not against the character of the music of the time and is … justified from stylistic the point of view. … What is more, the sound of the harpsichord is a beautiful complement to the sound of the whole orchestra. … 

Full interview in the opera’s programme. 

Bogusławski / Stefani
„A Miracle, or Cracovians and Highlanders”
Music director: Władysław Kłosiewicz
Director: Jarosław Kilian
Set and costume design: Izabela Chełkowska

March – premiere
15 March