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The Krakow Opera closed the 20th Summer Festival

The 20th Krakow Opera Summer Festival came to a close. It was a time filled with fantastic music, n very special places, abounding with numerous events, spectacles and concerts which offered the audience and the artists a rich emotional experience. The Krakow Opera dedicated the Festival to three great composers: Richard Wagner, Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini. 

The premiere of Richard Wagner’s ”Tannhäuser” staged by Laco Adamik (9.06.) opened the festival. The Krakow Opera took the challenge to stage this work for the first time. Tomasz Kuk and Janusz Ratajczak sang the title role. Elizabeth was played by: Magdalena Barylak, Wioletta Chodowicz and Agnieszka Kuk. ”(…) The Opera proved to be well prepared to take this challenge. The team of soloists turned out to be the strongest asset of the performance – mature and excellently prepared to sing demanding Wagnerian scores. The title role of Tomasz Kuk has become a well marked event in the Opera’s history”. (Justyna Nowicka, Radio Krakow, 10.06.2016).

The meetings in the courtyard of Wawel Castle were devoted to Giuseppe Verdi. It was a dream setting for ”Il trovatore” staged by Laco Adamik (17 and 19.06.). The music of the master of Italian opera in the splendid setting sounded exhilarating. The cast included Katarzyna Oleś-Blacha (Leonora), Małgorzata Walewska (Azucena), Tomasz Kuk (Manrico) and Leszek Skrla (Count di Luna). Despite adverse weather conditions during one performance, the audience gave the artists a big hand disregarding pouring rain. 

Another meeting with Giuseppe Verdi on Wawel was the concert ”World Opera Arias”: ”Verdi Soirée…” (21.06.). The audience listened to the arias and duets from the greatest operas by the composer: ”Nabucco”, ”Macbeth”, ”Rigoletto”, ”Les vêpres siciliennes”, ”Otello”, ”Il ballo in masquera”, ”Aida”, ”La traviata” and ”Don Carlo”. Singers included Edyta Kulczak, a soloist of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the Krakow audience’s favourites: Magdalena Barylak, Wioletta Chodowicz, Tomasz Kuk and Adam Szerszeń. The finest chorus parts from Giuseppe Verdi’s operas resounded in the courtyard, with the famous ”Va pensiero” from ”Nabucco”  and “Triumphal March” from the 2nd act of ”Aida” not to be missed. The orchestra of the Krakow Opera was conducted by Tomasz Tokarczyk. ”Open-air concerts in the Royal Castle on Wawel have become regular attractions of the Krakow Opera Summer Festival. There is something magical about the atmosphere of the Arcaded Courtyard, which makes listening to music even a greater pleasure. (…) I must admit that the programme of that night was carefully structured, because, alongside with Verdi’s hits, we could also hear equally beautiful, though a bit more demanding arias and chorus parts (…)” – wrote Mateusz Borkowski in ”Dziennik Polski” (23.06.2016).

The ballet performance “Emotions” (20.06) was also given in the Wawel courtyard. It was collage of dance etudes created by Katarzyna Aleksander-Kmieć, Violetta Suska and Jacek Tyski to the music by Arvo Pärt, Johannes Brahms, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Krzysztof Penderecki. The atmosphere of the venue and emotions driving the dancers made that night a real treat for ballet aficionados. 

The meetings with Giacomo Puccini’s music were held at the Opera building on Lubicz Street. The theatre showed three works by the composer, extremely popular among the Krakow audience: “Madama Butterfly” (23.06.), starring Wioletta Chodowicz as Cio-Cio-San and Vasyl Grokholsky as Pinkerton; “Tosca” (24.06.) with: Magdalena Barylak (Tosca), Tomasz Kuk (Cavaradossi), and ”La Boheme” (26.06.) with Andrzej Lampert as Rodolfo and Iwona Socha as Mimi. 

Unforgettable soirées filled with the finest songs and arias closed the 20th Krakow Opera Summer Festival. The concerts ”Operetta My Love” (30.06. and 1.07) dedicated to Bogusław Kaczyński and Jan Kiepura, reminded us of the musical pieces that the great promoter of the operetta art and those on the repertoire of the great Polish tenor. Grażyna Brodzińska was the special guest. The artist captivated the spectators, singing one of the most beautiful operetta melodies ”Lippen schweigen” together with the audience. There was no end to applause when Katarzyna Oleś-Blacha, Marcelina Beucher, Tomasz Kuk, Andrzej Lampert, Adam Sobierajski and Adam Szerszeń sang arias from such famous operettas as ”Der Zigeunerbaron”, ”Die Csárdásfürstin”, ”Der Vogelhändler”, ” Wiener Blut” and ”Orphée aux enfers”. The soloists were accompanied by the Choir, Ballet and Orchestra of the Krakow Opera under the baton of Sławomir Chrzanowski. Katarzyna Sanocka and Stanisław Knapik were the concert hosts.

Festival events were accompanied by the exhibition titled ”Special Music in Special Spaces…”, presenting the history of the Krakow Opera Summer Festival. It brought back the memories of the most interesting musical meetings over the last nineteen years. 

A documentary ”A Summer Opera Krakow” on the history of the festival was prepared for the anniversary event. The greats of the musical world: Professor Jadwiga Romańska, Professor Helena Łazarska, Małgorzata Walewska, Katarzyna Oleś-Blacha, Andrzej Biegun, Tomasz Kuk, and many other shared their experience and memories. The documentary was developed in coproduction with TV Krakow.

Nearly ten thousand spectators attended the events of the 20th Summer Festival. We are looking forward to seeing you at the next, 21st Krakow Opera Festival in less than a year!