‘I am writing these words shortly after returning from New York where the Lincoln Center Festival featured our production of Mieczysław Weinberg’s The Passenger directed by David Pountney. It was ours because the libretto was based on Zofia Posmysz’s story from 1961. It was ours because it was composed by Mieczysław Weinberg, a Polish Jew born in Warsaw, a graduate of the Warsaw Conservatoire who later became a war émigré and spent the rest of his life in the Soviet Union, fighting throughout this time to have the Polish version of his name restored, which he ultimately managed to achieve in the mid-1980s. It was ours because the horror of Auschwitz is understandably and extremely tragically linked to Poland’s history. Finally, it was ours because with the Bregenzer Festspiele as well as the English National Opera and Teatro Real in Madrid we were the opera’s coproducers. This was how it attracted the interest of the Houston Grand Opera, leading to the festival show at the famous Armory. The New York audience was enthusiastic. The performance was attended by Zofia Posmysz who was greeted with a huge ovation; extensive texts about her were published in dailies such as The New York Times and the Herald Tribune.
To me, New York’s Armory where The Passenger was performed brought back a sentimental memory from 1987, because this was where I first saw the famous Tamara, a show that I later managed to produce at the Studio Theatre, thus restoring the person of Tamara Łempicka and the renown of her oeuvre in world culture to the Polish awareness.
This year in New York I had cause for even more satisfaction when I saw Metropolitan Opera posters in many different places advertising the new season with pictures from Bluebeard’s Castle, a show directed by Mariusz Treliński with stage design by Boris Kudlička, which is our co-production with that opera house and will have its New York premiere on 26 January 2015.
My New York friends gathered me an impressive collection of reviews from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet choreographed by Krzysztof Pastor, a co-production with the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago that we presented at the Teatr Wielki in March and which Chicago staged soon after, in April-May. The opinions of American critics were enthusiastic! Let me quote just one excerpt by Hedy Weiss from the Chicago Sun-Times: “Not since Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story has Shakespeare’s tale of the fever of young love, and the insanity of an internally feuding society, found such fresh life, or such stark, unvarnished truth”. Anyone who knows what an icon of style Leonard Bernstein’s musical West Side Story is in the awareness of any American, including its historic 1961 screen version by Wise and Robbins, will appreciate the significance of this review.
Those few days in the culture capital of the opera world, which were suffused with Polish elements like never before, made me realize just how much we are a part of the elite group of the most important opera theatres, how strong a partner we are of those who until recently were completely beyond our reach.
It needs underlining: Warsaw has become a place where great performers and creators want to go.
In the upcoming season our theatre will work with leading conductors, including Lionel Friend, Stefan Soltesz, Carlo Montanaro, Alejo Perez, Andres Mustonen, Myung-Whun Chung, Roberto Paternostro, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Marcin Nałęcz-Niesiołowski, José Maria Florencio, Łukasz Borowicz and, finally, Andriy Yurkevych - the Polish National Opera’s new musical director; with world-famous directors: Keith Warner, Moshe Leiser & Patrice Caurier, David Pountney and, of course, Mariusz Treliński; soloists will include such stars as Nadja Michael, Olga Pasiecznik, Nadine Sierra, Anna Lubańska, Mariusz Kwiecień, Andrzej Dobber, Artur Ruciński, Sergey Skorokhodov and Rafał Siwek.
We will present great classics and new opera masterpieces. There will be William Tell by Rossini and Powder Her Face by Thomas Ades, Maria Stuarda by Donizetti and The Merchant of Venice by André Tchaikowsky. There will be brilliant choreographies by Jiří Kylián, Krzysztof Pastor, Kurt Jooss and a great choreographic discovery of recent years – Robert Bondara. Plans for the near future include co-productions with London’s Covent Garden, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysees in Paris, Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu, La Monnaie in Brussels, Vienna’s Wiener Staatsoper as well as the festivals in Bregenz and Aix-en-Provence. I’d like to invite you to our operas, ballets, concerts, exhibitions and programmes for children and their parents as well as special events. I’d like to invite you to a creative and inspirational place where thoughts and forms of expression cross, a place that draws upon the synergy of the arts…
I’d like to invite you to our Theatre and assure you on behalf of the entire Company that you will be our most welcome guests.’