The history of the Warsaw opera orchestra goes back to the time it was associated with the National Theatre run by Wojciech Bogusławski. The orchestra was then led by two outstanding Polish conductors and composers: Józef Elsner and Karol Kurpiński. The latter also became the first director of the newly-opened Teatr Wielki in 1833. Later its orchestra was led by prominent Italian conductor, Jan Quattrini and the father of Polish national opera, Stanisław Moniuszko. In the early 20th century they were succeeded by conductors of such stature as Emil Młynarski, Artur Rodziński, or Zdzisław Górzyński.
After the sad interlude of WWII, the orchestra entered the arduous process of revival and improvement, finally becoming the biggest Polish opera orchestra, which allows it to undertake versatile and challenging artistic assignments. The orchestra may boast collaborations with such excellent Polish conductors as Witold Rowicki, Bohdan Wodiczko, Jan Krenz, Jerzy Semkow, Mieczysław Mierzejewski, Henryk Czyż, Antoni Wit, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Bogusław Madey, Antoni Wicherek, Robert Satanowski, Kazimierz Kord, Grzegorz Nowak, Andrzej Straszyński, Tadeusz Wojciechowski, and Jacek Kaspszyk.
The orchestra as also performed on numerous occassions under well-recognised international conductors, incluidng Nello Santi, Alberto Zedda, Heinz Fricke, Hans Swarowsky, Gerhard Geist, Dżansug Kachidze, George A. Albrecht, Werner Seitzer, Michael Zilm, Siegfried Köhler, Elio Boncompagni, José Maria Florencio Júnior, Tiziano Severini, Enrique Diemecke, Paul Connelly, Chikara Imamura, Marc Minkowski, and Valery Gergiev.
The orchestra has toured extensively abroad, performing opera and ballet productions, symphony concerts in Berlin, Bonn, Bregenz, Brussels, Bucharest, Lisbon, Luxembourg, Madrid, Monte Carlo, Moscow, Paris, Sofia, Tel-Aviv, and lately in more than dozen Japanese cities. It has performed at festivals in Xanten, Carcassonne, Thesaloniki and the Mai Festwoche in Wiesbaden, where in 1972 it won the golden feather for is rendition of Verdi’s Otello under Jan Krenz.