The Haunted
Manor

Stanisław Moniuszko

  • Act 1

    40 min.

  • Intermission

    ca. 20 min.

  • Act II

    40 min.

  • Intermission

    ca. 20 min.

  • Act 3 & 4

    1h10 min.

Duration: ca. 3h15 min.

  • Performance cancelled
  • Performance cancelled
  • Performance cancelled

Opera in four acts
Libretto: Jan Chęciński
World premiere: 28 September 1865, Teatr Wielki, Warsaw
Premiere of this production: 8 November 2015, Polish National Opera, Teatr Wielki, Warsaw
In the original Polish with English surtitles
The Haunted Manor by Stanisław Moniuszko comes from the catalogue of PWM Edition 

It is sometimes good to loosen the sanitary cordon that protects works bearing the stamp of arch-Polishness, if only to check whether they retain the power to move human hearts once seen through an external eye. In the case of The Haunted Manor, the experiment was definitely successful. David Pountney relegates the Kontusz-wearing nobility setting to history’s prop storage, and instead has his protagonists don uniforms, what with the story being relocated to the 1920s. This does not mean that Moniuszko’s masterpiece becomes historically indifferent: history simply appears without ostentation, for example when the proscenium arch is filled by Kossak’s Miracle on the Vistula painting. And if a noble manor house appears, it is a model in the literal sense. Is it worth asking why the Manor itself is haunted? Because it was erected from funds obtained unethically, which resulted in a curse and visitations by phantoms. In reality, however, real people do all the haunting – Damazy the suitor, paying court to one the sisters and playing tricks, as well as the sisters themselves – with their incredibly haunting beauty. The Haunted Manor as imagined by Pountney dazzles visually, but also sincerely entertains.

Cast

Credits

Chorus and Orchestra of the Polish National Opera
Polish National Ballet


Synopsis

  • ,

    Act I

    Two brothers, Stefan and Zbigniew, bid farewell to their fellow soldiers. They make a solemn promise to remain single so as not to be diverted by domestic issues should their country need them in the future (chorus and duet).

    Back at their country estate, the servants are preparing for the brothers’ arrival home (chorus), together with their faithful companion Maciej. The three men reflect nostalgically on their childhood home (trio). Their Aunt, Chamberlain’s wife, arrives – a notorious matchmaker. She has marriage plans for her nephews (trio) which the boys resist, planning instead to put the affairs of their estate in order by collecting their debts. She is horrified when they announce that they will begin at Kalinowo, a house which she claims is haunted. Undeterred, the three men set off (finale).

  • ,

    Act II

    New Year’s Eve in Kalinowo, the Manor House of the Sword-Bearer. A group of young girls including his daughters, Hanna and Jadwiga, are preparing entertainments for the traditional New Year party, and amuse themselves by telling one another’s fortunes (women’s chorus and dumka). Damazy, a lawyer with a taste for affected French fashion, makes a play for one of the sisters (duet), but the fortune-telling reveals that the girls are destined to marry soldiers (quartet). The Sword-Bearer expounds his idea of the perfect son-in-law, a Polish citizen and patriot characterised by courage and nobility (Polonaise aria).

    The Chamberlain’s wife has managed to get to Kalinowo before her nephews, and tries to dampen the family’s interest in them by describing them as weak and effeminate. Hanna and Jadwiga determine to punish them for their unworthy cowardice.

    The steward Skołuba arrives with huntsmen. He has just shot a wild boar, but at the same time it was hit by another bullet from a stranger in a passing coach: there are two bullets in the animal. Who can claim the prize? Zbigniew and Stefan are welcomed by the Sword-Bearer as the sons of his dearest friend. It was Maciej who fired the second shot, and he and Skoluba start a noisy dispute. The Sword-Bearer announces that at the New Year banquet the first toast will be to Stefan and Zbigniew’s father (finale).

  • ,

    Act III

    A room in the tower of Kalinowo Manor with a large grandfather clock and paintings on the walls. Maciej is terrified when Skołuba warns him about the apparitions that haunt the tower (aria). The two girls have secretly hidden behind the paintings. Maciej imagines everything to be a ghost, and Zbigniew and Stefan try to calm him down, commenting that the old soldier displays his courage only on the battlefield, and that the wine may be the cause of the ghosts he sees. In the moonlight Stefan is haunted by Hanna’s beautiful eyes, but then remembers his vow. The clock strikes twelve, and the chimes play a melody which his father used to sing (Aria with chimes). Zbigniew is also unable to fall asleep and the brothers confess to one another that they have fallen in love: Stefan with Hanna, and Zbigniew with Jadwiga. The two girls secretly observe these confessions from their pictures (duet and quartet). Damazy has hidden inside the clock, hoping to frighten the visitors, but Maciej captures him and Damazy now has to explain himself. Still intent on driving the brothers away, he tells them that the manor house was built with a reward for treachery, and so is cursed. Disgusted by this information, they decide to leave at once (finale).

  • ,

    Act IV

    Hanna is furious about thier perceived cowardice, and asserts that there is no conflict between marriage and duty to the fatherland (aria). Damazy reports that the two men are afraid of ghosts and are about to depart. The Sword-Bearer flies into a rage, accusing the two men of cowardice, but although the boys keep up a tactful silence, Maciej reveals Damazy’s scandalous accusation. The Sword-Bearer indignantly refutes this, and persuades the boys to stay.

    The ringing of bells is heard in the distance, and sleighs with guests arrive, including Damazy in disguise. He is eventually exposed, and the Sword-Bearer demands an explanation for his lies. Damazy makes one last attempt to gain the hands of one of the sisters, but now the brothers realise they must follow their hearts, and their proposals are accepted, but not before the Sword-Bearer has finally explained the true reason for the manor’s haunted reputation (finale).

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Sponsors

  • Patrons of the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Partners of the Opera Academy

  • Partners of Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

  • Media patrons