The story of queen Anna Bolena on the stage of the Krakow Opera
On 25 May "Anna Bolena" by G. Donizetti premiered on our stage. Producers of the performance included: the music director of the Krakow Opera Tomasz Tokarczyk, director Magdalena Łazarkiewicz, production designer Paweł Dobrzycki, costume designer Maria Balcerek, director of the Opera Choir Jacek Mentel, and the director of light and multimedia Piotr Lenar. Katarzyna Oleś-Blacha (/ Karina Skrzeszewska) sang the title role, Szymon Kobyliński (/Volodymyr Pankiv) played the role of Henry VIII, and Monika Korybalska (/ Karolina Sikora) portrayed Giovanna Seymour. Lord Riccardo Percy was rendered by Andrzej Lampert (/ Adam Sobierajski), Smeton — by Wanda Franek (/ Olga Maroszek), Sir Hervey — by Krzysztof Kozarek (/ Jarosław Bielecki), Lord Rochefort — by Sebastian Marszałowicz (/ Jerzy Wójcik). The soloists were accompanied by the Choir and Orchestra of the Krakow Opera, conducted by Tomasz Tokarczyk.
The performance was very well received by the Krakow audience and guests, as well as journalists and critics. As Anna Woźniakowska (polskamuza.eu) wrote, "... the entirety of «Bolena» is fascinating, and in this staging it's well worth both listening and watching. … The sparing direction of Magdalena Łazarkiewicz puts focus on personal dramas of the protagonists and is well accompanied by Paweł Dobrzycki's designs". Adam Czopek (maestro.net.pl) added: "... one should appreciate the great care taken to develop the psychological character of the drama's heroes".
The soloists' performance garnered great admiration. "«Anna Bolena» ... is a typical opera of the bel canto era, giving the soloists plenty of room to showcase their vocal skills; that's an important strength of the Krakow staging," wrote Czopek. "Both Katarzyna Oleś-Blacha (Anna Bolena) and Monika Korybalska (Giovanna Seymour) made full use of that in creating roles to remember. Oleś-Blacha presents Queen Anna with a full palette of dramatic expression, drawn with subtlety and no unnecessary embellishments, allowing her to build a tragic and poignant figure. As always, her liberty in delivering the phrase, approaching the highest registers, and her mastery of dynamics and expression are admirable. The final scene of madness was a real masterpiece. Monika Korybalska proved to be a worthy partner ... endowed with a splendid mezzo soprano of an interesting colour and natural freedom of emission. She also imbued her role with a fullness of emotion and fully developed expression, using a vast scale of feelings. … Their performance of the great duet «Dio che mi vedi in core» was a true vocal duel, and both came out victorious." Dorota Szwarcman wrote in her blog on the "Polityka" website: "... Karina Skrzeszewska is truly regal in the role, and Karolina Sikora balances her well as Seymour ...; she's particularly great in the duet with Anna. Volodymyr Pankiv as Henry makes a strong impression thanks to his height and bass .... Olga Maroszek, who sang the role of the unfortunate musician Smeton also in the Łódz staging, has grown a lot since then". Anna Woźniakowska added: "... the title part was created by Karina Skrzeszewska. This is no overstatement. It was indeed a real act of creation, musically flawless, and dramatically impeccable. Karina Skrzeszewska's Anna was real, she commanded both a queen's majesty and the despair of a woman who's failed by her plans and hopes, and is betrayed by everyone she loved, sometimes against their own will. … This role is bound to make a mark on the Krakow opera scene. … It gave me great pleasure to listen to Olga Maroszek as Smeton, to Jarosław Bielecki as the unfeeling executor of Henry’s commands, and to Jerzy Wójcik as Anna's luckless brother who played a big part in her fall". As observed by Adam Czopek, there was another male performance of note in the play: "as usual, Andrzej Lampert has taken great care in developing and delivering his part, managing to create a convincing portrayal of Richard Percy".
Reporters were also very appreciative of how well the Orchestra and Choir were prepared; Ms. Woźniakowska wrote: "Tomasz Tokarczyk directed the music and conducted the performance with a dramatic verve and with much attention paid to the nuances of Donizetti's score. He worked very well with both the soloists and the beautifully sounding choir (as directed by Jacek Mentel)". Adam Czopek also remarked that “at the conductor's lectern, Tomasz Tokarczyk was a very precise leader, especially when conducting ensemble and group scenes. The orchestra under his direction had great energy and understanding of how Donizetti’s music should be performed. Under his dynamic baton, the music carried the proper amount of drama, a full range of emotion, an earnestness of feeling, and a well-presented clarity of rhythm and of the bel canto melody line. In order to form a full picture of the premiere, one should also include the choir with its impressive direction, vocal discipline, and homogenous sound”.