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After the Premiere of “Olimpia of Gdańsk" by Zygmunt Krauze


Zygmunt Krauze's “Olimpia of Gdańsk” opera, telling the story about Stanisława Przybyszewska, a pre-war writer fascinated by the French Revolution, had its premiere on 20 November.


Dorota Szwarcman wrote about Zygmunt Krauze's most recent opera that: “If you know Krauze's operas, you know what to expect: recitatives, arrested, restless motives, and continuous flow of action. What is interesting is that the part of Robespierre was given to a countertenor (great performance of Jan Jakub Monowid). But, obviously, the main character is Stanisława, played by the fabulous Anna Mikołajczyk who has appeared in the Opera Gedanensis cycle [ed. note: project carried out by the Baltic Opera in Gdańsk] for the second time (she was also given the main part in Elżbieta Sikora's opera). The secondary parts are also interesting and are difficult to mention individually, except of Olimpia, played by Monika Ledzion. Simple and flexible directing (Jerzy Lach) and stage design (Hanna Szymczak), and a successful conductor's debut of Maja Metelska whom I once supported at the Fitelberg Competition. In general, the performance was a success.” 


In turn, Łukasz Rudziński emphasised that: “You really should (...) concentrate on the rich and varied music of Zygmunt Krauze, which consists of cutting, jazzy dissonances and original interludes (e.g. of the accordion), and which balances smoothly between harmony and disharmony (the use of e.g. the detuned piano). That music is, however, strictly (or too strictly, in my opinion) bound to the libretto, by emphasising some phrases or suppressing the singers (e.g. at quotations from The Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, sung by the Baltic Opera Choir). Yet, as the opera evolves, it gets milder and easier to receive, despite the dark, ever-lower tones.”


Maja Korbut wrote very well about the opera in “Dziennik Bałtycki”, a local daily newspaper: “Zygmunt Krauze's composition is so interesting that it could exist as an individual, non-theatrical work. Although the composer willingly uses innovative sounds and means, those who are not keen on contemporary music should not fear the opera. “Olimpia of Gdańsk” is full of beautiful melodies and fascinating musical structures. The composer reaches for unique sounds, enriching the orchestra with non-standard percussion instruments, an accordion and a detuned piano. The music of Zygmunt Krauze becomes a guide for the listener. Although coherent throughout the work, it emphasises the division of the opera into smaller parts and separates Stanisława's real life from her imaginary perceptions and dreamlike visions she experienced during her narcotic trances. Moreover, the work clearly proves that it is not the first opera of the composer and that he understands the genre very well. Although some vocal parts, especially the part of Stanisława that is fraught with breakneck leaps, were a real challenge for the artists, you can hear Krauze's great care of transmitting and stressing the message of the text.”

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