1st Festival of Baroque Operas “Dramma per Musica” – already on 4 September

The Polish premiere of "Orlando", one of the best operas of George Frideric Handel, master of baroque music, will inaugurate the 1st Festival of Baroque Operas “Dramma per Musica”. Until 20 September, the audience will have the opportunity to attend operas and concerts featuring baroque music compositions in the Royal Theatre of the Old Orangery.

In the Old Orangery, near the Royal Sculpture Gallery, a press conference was held on 31 August, at which the organisers of the 1st Festival of Baroque Art presented its objectives and programme.

Dramma per Musica is the only festival in Poland devoted to baroque opera. The aim of the Festival is to present stage versions of the works of European masters of baroque, including Handel, Antonio Vivaldi or Jean-Philippe Rameau, performed by the most eminent Polish artists – Lilianna Stawarz, who heads the Dramma per Musica Association of Baroque Music Lovers, stated.

The opera performances will be accompanied by chamber concerts and recitals. Nearly 100 artists, including nearly 40 singers, will perform for the festival audience at 19 musical events.

Lilianna Stawarz

Most of the events of the Festival will take place in the Łazienki Park. The main stage of the Festival will be the Royal Theatre in the Old Orangery – one of the few preserved authentic eighteenth-century court theatres in Europe and only such theatre in Poland. It was opened 227 years ago, on 6 September 1788. The first public performance was Henry VI on a hunt by Wojciech Boguslawski. During the 1st Festival of Baroque Operas, visitors will be invited to hear “Orlando” by George Frideric Handel.

“Orlando” is the first Polish performance on stage of this remarkable opera by George Frideric Handel. The author of the stage adaptation for the historic interiors of the Theatre is the talented director Natalia Kozłowska, who produced an outstanding contemporary version of “Agrippina” a year ago. The director reminded that “Orlando” is a story about love that was frantic but also happy. The opera is set in a forest, so it might create a good impression in the Royal Łazienki where nature is abundant – as Natalia Kozłowska pointed out. She added that the stylistic character of the production oscillates between comedy, tragedy and a fantasy story.

Natalia Kozłowska

Since the premier of “Orlando” performed in 1733 at the King’s Theatre in London under the eye of the composer himself, no Polish artist has taken up the challenge to produce this work on stage. “Orlando” is regarded as one of the most beautiful operas of the baroque era, although the work has been underestimated for years. “Orlando” is the second (after “Agrippina”) opera project prepared for the Royal Theatre in Łazienki. The title role of Orlando will be played by Jan Jakub Monowid, counter-tenor of Warsaw Chamber Opera, and he will be joined by brilliant Aleksandra Zamojska (soprano), who resides permanently in Salzburg and gives concerts in Poland extremely rarely. In addition, on the stage we will see: Artur Janda (bass), Dagmara Barna (soprano) and Damian Ganclarski (counter-tenor). The soloists will be accompanied by the chamber Royal Baroque Ensemble under the direction of Lilianna Stawarz.

Other locations of the Festival include Warsaw Chamber Opera, W. Lutosławski Concert Studio of the Polish Radio and Warsaw University.

Apart from “Orlando” (after the premiere the opera will be presented three times during the Festival), the Royal Theatre we host “Agrippina” by Handel with the stunning play of Anna Radziejewska who, on 20 September, will celebrate the 20th anniversary of her artistic career on the royal stage. On this occasion, Jerzy Lach – Director of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, co-organiser of the Festival, gave a bouquet of roses to Anna Radziejowska.

Anna Radziejowska

In addition to Handel’s operas, the programme features pieces of other eminent composers of the baroque era, including Antonio Vivaldi, Domenico Sarro, Dietrich Buxtehude or Jean-Philippe Rameau, which are rarely seen in repertoires of national music stages. “Teatro alla Moda”, a music performance based on the text of Benedetto Marcello to the music of Antonio Vivaldi, will be an interesting proposal.

Fashionable theatre, that is an easy and reliable way of good composition and performance of Italian operas after the contemporary way. This innocent title hides a satire on the style, form and content of operas in 18th century Venice, however the audience will easily find contemporary references. Among others, we will also see Anna Radziejewska and Andrzej Mastalerz on the stage, playing the role of narrator.

The stage adaptation of the opera of Domenico Sarro entitled “Diddone Abandonata” for the libretto of Pietro Metastasio, telling the story of Dido and Aeneas, was prepared by the {oh!} Orkiestra Historyczna, which plays historic instruments, in collaboration with Czech and Slovak artists.

The concert version of the opera-ballet of J. P. Rameau “Les Indes galantes” will be presented by an international band of instrumentalists conducted by Stefan Plewniak – Il Giardino d’Amore together with a group of soloists from Austria, France, Great Britain and Poland.

The impressive interiors of the columned hall of the Faculty of History at Warsaw University will host the sounds of “Membra Jesu nostri patientis sanctissima” – a series of seven short cantatas by Dietrich Buxtehude from 1680, which is regarded as the first Lutheran oratorio. The soloists and the Chamber Choir Collegium Musicum of Warsaw University under the baton of Andrzej Borzym will be accompanied by the Gradus ad Parnassum band conducted by Krzysztof Garstka.

The high artistic level of the Festival is guaranteed by outstanding singers with recognised achievements, including Olga Pasiecznik, Anna Radziejewska, Aleksandra Zamojska, Artur Stefanowicz. Handel’s cantatas will be proposed as part of the programme of the recital “Tre Donne” by Olga Pasiecznik, and also together with cantatas of Vivaldi at the concert “Amor Crudel”, during which one can appreciate the exceptional fragility and vocal talent of Kacper Szelążek, a counter-tenor whose career is just beginning.

The Festival will offer master workshops for talented vocalists and instrumentalists selected in nationwide rehearsals. The Festival gives them an opportunity to present their skills during a special concert “Barok na pięć głosów” (Baroque for five voices). The programme of the concert will comprise the most famous arias and operas of Handel.

Tickets can be purchased directly via the: www.bilety24.pl web portal or in the ticket offices of the Royal Łazienki Museum, of the W. Lutosławski Studio and Warsaw Chamber Opera.