Opera in three acts
Libretto: Alfred Nossig based on the novel The Cottage outside the Village by Józef Ignacy Kraszewski
World premiere: 29 May 1901, Dresden
Premiere of this production: 12 October 2018, Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera
Co-produced with the Poznań Opera House
In the original Polish with English surtitles
It was not ambition, but financial trouble that brought Paderewski to the shores of America in 1891. The new continent hailed him as a wizard of the keyboard. He himself hoped at the time that the keyboard wouldn’t be the end of it and that the world would grow to appreciate him also as a composer. The draft of his first opera, based on Kraszewski’s novel The Cottage Outside the Village [Chata za wsią], was ready. The libretto was penned by the journalist and sculptor Alfred Nossig, while the composer continued to rework subsequent versions of the piece in his spare time between concerts. It took several years. In the meantime he got married, became a father, was widowed, remarried and lost his son. The handicapped boy died in 1901 – the same year that Manru premiered in Dresden. Next it opened in Warsaw a few days later, and in the States in February 1902, making history as the first Polish opera ever to be staged at the Metropolitan Opera. After a brief triumph it became forgotten for many years. What will the director Marek Weiss find in this touching tale of unhappy love played out against the background of a class society – especially in our world of awakening nationalisms and growing intolerance? Without a doubt the lovers’ rapture, gypsy marches and the frenetic element of Paderewski’s only opera will impress with their superb sound world, at the same time surprising us with the piece’s timeless relevance.