Sunday, 4th of October 2015, in POSK (The Polish Social and Cultural Association), in Hammersmith, London.
A Review by Jolanta Ryba
An age old Polish favourite classic opera came to London, The Haunted Manor with the libretto by Jan Checinski and music by Stanislaw Moniuszko. It was performed by an excellent group of professional opera singers, The Orchestra of POSK, and the very proficient amateur Mazury YMCA Dance Group of London. Feliks Tarnawski was the drama Director, and Stephen Ellery and Alexander Walker were the Conductors.
The plot has two elements, one romantic and the other patriotic, representing 2 views of life in a Polish country manor house –firstly, idyllic family life and, secondly, patriotic readiness to fight for Poland’s independence during the 3 partitions time (when Russia, Prussia and Austria occupied Poland:1772 – 1793 – 1795). The original opera was first performed at the Teatr Wielki, Warsaw in 1865 only three times, before it was banned by the Russian Empire censors, because of its Polish revolutionary undertones.
It was a joy to see the second Moniuszko opera that I have seen at POSK, after last year’s successful Halka. All the production team proved to be the best ambassadors of Polish culture and tradition abroad. They rightly presented S. Moniuszko cultural heritage as the best representation of the intertwining themes of Polish patriotism, Christianity, promoting national identity at the time, when Poland did not exist on the maps for more than 100 years.
I especially remember the wistful women’s folkloric songs during the sewing of a wedding blanket and the harmonic men’s quartet in the clock room, when they discovered, that the manor could be sold. How different were traditional women and men roles in the past. They were strongly related to the independence desire. Parents would accept only brave candidates with a strong sense of homeland. We could enjoy the beautiful national Polish dresses and dances with the final and spectacular mazurka scene – something to be proud of.
I do share the impression, that all the performance participants have done their best for not only families and friends, but also a big group of Londoners and English visitors. At various times during the performance, the drama was interrupted by the celebratory approval by the audience calling out BRAVO and BRAVISSIMMO as the actors performed, played, danced and sung on stage. It was a great day for Polish culture in England.
I especially enjoyed the artistic and technical excellence in the acting and singing of Marcin Janusz and Agnieszka Adamczak. I can’t wait to see my next opera at POSK!
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