Polish National Opera makes its debut appearance in the UK with three operas in one season; King Roger, The Haunted Manor and Ubu Rex. Since its beginnings in 1778, the company has been creating large-scale, flamboyant operas and this programme brings together three Polish masterpieces.
The Haunted Manor
Stanislaw Moniuszko’s opera is known as one of the greatest 19th century Polish opera scores, with imaginative harmonies and colourful instrumentation. Written after the 1864 January Uprisings, Moniuszko set out to create an opera to raise the nation’s spirits, bringing patriotic knights in armour onto the stage. The result is a grand-scale drama in which follows two brothers, Stefan and Zbigniew, as they venture out to the cursed, haunted Kalinowo Manor. However they soon discover the real danger lies not with the ghosts, but with the two beautiful Sword-bearers’ daughters.
Haunted Manor : Tue 20 and Wed 21 April at 7.30pm. Sung in Polish with English surtitles.
King Roger (concert version)
Set in the exotic world of Arabian-Byzantine culture in medieval Sicily, King Roger explores the age-old struggle of reason and balance versus instinct and sexuality. The puritanical world of King Roger is thrown into turmoil by the appearance of a mysterious and hypnotic shepherd, who preaches a new God, promoting passion and lust. As his wife Roxana succumbs to the newcomer’s mysterious allure, King Roger must battle with his own crisi of faith. The opera is set to Karol Szymanowski’s score, which combines bold modernity with melodious folk influences.
King Roger (concert version): Thu 22 April at 7.30pm. Sung in Polish with English surtitles.
In this production, first staged in 1991, Krzysztof Penderecki turns towards comic opera, with references to Rossini’s buffo tradition and avant-garde music. The tale follows the war-mongering King Ubu, as he seizes control of the crown, throws out the government and declares war on Russia. This large-scale burlesque is a highly original take on a moral tale, where the absurd imperceptibly turns into menace with a dark, comic twist of fate.
Ubu Rex: Sat 24 at 7.30pm, Sun 25 at 5.00pm. Sung in German with English surtitles.
Learn more about London operas within the West End.