When I was writing my traditional New Year’s message twelve months ago, I could have been more unaware of the radical changes that were about to turn our world upside down. None of us could have envisaged what was about to happen, or anything along similar lines.
Confronted with the pandemic, having overcome the initial shock and confusion, we began to learn the new reality, adapt to the rules forced upon us by the circumstances and find our way in the space around, so familiar, yet so different now… We remodelled – and, in truth, are still remodelling – our professional, personal, social life… our everyday routines, special occasions as well as forms of participating in culture. Artists, and performing artists in particular, have been badly hit by the pandemic. The music and theatre life as we knew it is in a state of hibernation.
Soon, however, it turned out that – paradoxically – these extraordinary and extremely challenging circumstances may become a trigger, or dare I say: an inspiration, for creators and performers… That is certainly what happened here, in our theatre, elsewhere in Poland and around the globe. Last year saw many exciting and valuable projects taking place in the ‘virtual reality’. It also turned out – to our great joy – that these novel initiatives had been very much in demand and welcomed enthusiastically by music lovers of all ages… Even more paradoxically, we noticed that our audience was expanding to include people who had not been actively interested in this kind of art. We know now that the pandemic has proved to be a breeding ground (sic!) for book readership. I am also sure the radio has been enjoying a revival in our lives (I am a living and breathing example of this – Polish Radio 2!).
While we continue to offer you new concepts and online content created – mostly but not exclusively – for these difficult times, we are aware that our main responsibility right now is to stay ready to perform, so that we could welcome you back into the theatre as soon as it is possible and treat you to shows of the highest quality. That is why, as much as the circumstances and safety measures permit, our rehearsals go on, our chorus and orchestra keep working, our teams are getting ready to stage our revivals and new productions. Thus, we are working towards the goal that I am sure we all share: to meet again in the great building on Teatralny Square. After all, the essence of theatre and, by extension, opera is live participation, an exchange of energy between the performers and the audience, an opportunity to share in emotions and experiences that you can then take home with you and tap into for days to come…
We have just celebrated Christmas, which is always a source of hope and can – even in the most dire of circumstances – give us strength, serenity and a sense that there indeed is a tiny light twinkling at the end of the very long tunnel… For some, it is a time of religious celebration, others see it as an opportunity to reunite with their loved ones or as a moment for personal, hopefully, affirming, reflection. It is a time that has the magic power to evoke positivity and optimism. Let us hope that this is the mindset with which we enter the New Year… and that hope triumphs over uncertainty.
We go on, waiting to meet you again.
and his Team at the Polish National Opera, Teatr Wielki, Warsaw
(photo: Marlena Bielińska)