21st Summer Festival Ended the 2016/2017 Season

It was already the 21st time that music aficionados and opera lovers had the opportunity to participate in the Summer Krakow Opera Festival. This year, the Festival’s rich and diverse repertoire attracted a lot of interest from the audience. 

The Summer Festival was held under the motto “Opera Theatre, and was co-financed by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. In less than a month the Krakow Opera invited the spectators to fifteen events (nine titles) in a wide variety of genres, including fantastical opera, songs, a performance staged as part of the Theatre Night cycle, classical ballet and a combination of ballet and jazz, open-air events, as well as comic opera. 

This year’s edition started with a premiere of The “Tales of Hoffmann” by Offenbach (9, 10, 11 and 13 June), a fantastical opera directed by Michał Znaniecki. “If anyone wants to find out what the contemporisation of a nearly 140 years old opera consists in, they have now a perfect opportunity,” wrote Paweł Dybicz (“Przegląd”). The performance was warmly received by both the public and the critics. Katarzyna Oleś-Blacha and Marcelina Beucher appeared in four roles: Olympia, Antonia, Giulietta and Stella, while Tomasz Kuk and Dominik Sutowicz played the role of Hoffmann.

It is a tradition that the Summer Festival features open-air events. By courtesy of the Directorate of the Wawel Royal Castle, the Arcade Courtyard became the stage for three wonderful evening performances. The Krakow Opera invited the public to the “World Opera Arias” concert, which featured outstanding musical pieces performed by the Krakow Opera soloists:  Katarzyna Oleś-Blacha, Tomasz Kuk, Andrzej Lampert and Volodymyr Pankiv, as well as the singers of the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava: Ewa Hornyáková and Daniel Čapkovič. Another performance staged at the Wawel Courtyard was Bizet’s Carmen, one of the world’s most popular operas. The staging took place on 27 June, and featured Iryna Zhytynska in the title role. The Courtyard also turned into a dance floor for ballet stars from Europe and Russia. The Grand pas...! (29 June) starred soloists from the Mariinsky Theatre in Sankt Petersburg, the National Opera and Ballet Theatre in Vilnius, the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, the Theatre in Košice, the Polish National Ballet, and the Krakow Opera Ballet. A performance which received a specially warm applause from the audience was the famous Bolero by Ravel with choreography by Krzysztof Pastor, featuring Yuka Ebihara and Dawid Trzensimiech together with the Polish National Ballet ensemble. “(...) The staging was full of passion, beautiful, perfectly presented”, wrote Anna Woźniakowska (Polska Muza).

The “Final Concert, which ended the Song – The Theatre of the Word cycle (16 June), was the opportunity to listen to the Krakow Opera artists in a beautiful, but rarely performed repertoire. Katarzyna Oleś-Blacha, the Krakow Opera soloist, was the artistic director of that Concert. Two performances which received a specially warm welcome from the spectators were Biblical Songs by Antonin Dvořak in the interpretation by Mariusz Godlewski, and Songs of the Fairy-tale Princess by Karol Szymanowski, performed by Katarzyna Oleś-Blacha. The cycle was organised in partnership with the Wieliczka Salt Mine. 

A treat for ballet and jazz music lovers was the performance titled “Two Stories – One Dance (18 and 19 June). The Krakow Opera Ballet danced to live music played by Piotr Orzechowski and Krzysztof Ścierański, to the choreography by Jacek Tyski. The performances inaugurated the 22nd Piwnica Pod Baranami Summer Jazz Festival. 

The programme of the Summer Festival also included the performances of “The Haunted Manor by Moniuszko directed by Laco Adamik. The first staging took place on 21 June in the Krakow Opera, and was a diploma performance of Joachim Kołpanowicz, a student of the Cracow Music Academy. The second performance was staged in Trzebinia (on 23 June in a park near the Basilica). The Festival ended with the comic opera Don Pasquale by Donizetti (30 June, 2 July) directed by Jerzy Stuhr, which upon its premiere on 2 December 2016, was hailed as a major theatre event in Krakow. Like every year, the Krakow Opera participated in the Theatre Night (17/18 June) organised by the Municipality of Krakow. This time the event featured a performance titled Moon is thoughtful, stars are distant. The artists of the Krakow stage presented a repertoire of Russian songs. 

The 21st Summer Krakow Opera Festival attracted a lot of interest from both the public and the media. The attendance during this year’s edition was nearly 98%. The Festival (9 June, 2 July 2017) ended the 2016/2017 artistic season.