Opera Rara Kraków 2024

Thursday, February 1, 2024 - Sunday, February 18, 2024

  • Thursday, February 1, 2024 - Sunday, February 18, 2024

The Best Art of All

The Opera Rara Kraków festival once again reminds us that opera is a dazzling synthesis of music, theatre, literature and visual arts.

Text: Barbara Skowrońska, Kraków Culture

The current operatic repertoire includes a few hundred titles globally, while the most popular pieces number around two hundred. Meanwhile, it’s likely that many thousands have been written since opera’s inception! And so, keeping true to its name (the adjective “rara” is no accident!), the Opera Rara Kraków festival presents compositions from throughout the genre’s more than four centuries and reaches far beyond operatic canon, conventions and formats. Since 2017, the event organised by Capella Cracoviensis has a festival format although it is held in several instalments throughout the year. The most important section coincides with Carnival; in the days of Vivaldi and Handel the period abounded with operatic innovations and premieres.

Interactions and confrontations
You’ll find plenty of both in the programme of Opera Rara Kraków 2024, which shows that we are exploring a genre which continues to grow and develop, seeks new forms of expression and reaches for state-of-the-art solutions. In Karol Nepelski’s Solaris, to a libretto and directed by Waldemar Raźniak, resounding in Kraków for the first time, the futuristic tale based on Stanisław Lem’s novel of the same title serves as a starting point for unusual staging choices: dramatic actors interact with music through a system converting speech into a kind of electronic song.
Another modern touch is brought by the opera I, Şeküre with libretto and music by Aleksander Nowak, inspired by Orhan Pamuk’s novel My Name Is Red. “In a way it will be a stage production, although without what we generally understand as a plot; it will be more of an operatic installation,” the festival’s manager Marzena Lubaszka, describes the world premiere of the work.
We can also talk about modern times through the medium of Baroque music, as is intended by Krzysztof Garbaczewski. In the 17th-century score of Giacomo Carissimi’s oratorio Jephte, performed at the festival under the music direction of the virtuoso of early plucked instruments Andreas Arend, the director notes similarities to the 21st century and the current bloody conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Many facets of opera
“The idea to present An Index of Metals came during our conversations with Spółdzielnia Muzyczna – it was the ensemble who came up with the initiative,” Lubaszka reveals some of the background to the programme of this year’s Opera Rara Kraków. In Fausto Romitelli’s video opera, theatrical elements intertwine with imagery, the spoken word, classical instruments, electric guitar and electronica; the composer himself described it using such terms as “total perception”, “initiation rite” and “immersion”. “We want to showcase many different facets of the world of opera and vocal and instrumental combinations, and this is just one such facet,” says Lubaszka.
This concept also includes recitals, which have always been an important element of the programme; according to Jan Tomasz Adamus, leader of Capella Cracoviensis and artistic director of Opera Rara Kraków, the foundation of opera – an element on which it entirely depends – is the human voice. At past editions of the festival, we heard artists such as Jakub Józef Orliński, Samuel Mariño, Adriana Kučerová and Patricia Petibon, as well as Philippe Jaroussky just last autumn. This time we will hear the highly-acclaimed baritone Thomas E. Bauer; he centres his performance around Schubert's famous song cycle Winterreise.
We’ll also find traces of opera in works which are usually assigned to other genres, including Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s The First Walpurgis Night – a ballad for solo voices, choir and orchestra presented by the festival team under the baton of Jan Tomasz Adamus, leader of Capella Cracoviensis and artistic director of Opera Rara Kraków, as a semi-staged performance.

In the spirit of tradition
The vast diversity of opera also includes classical elements such as Mozart’s Idomeneo; this work, rarely performed in Poland, is presented by Capella Cracoviensis under the baton of Alessandro Moccia, with soloists including major stars such as Anna Prohaska and Ian Bostridge. With this performance, the organisers are recalling the days when Opera Rara was a cycle of individual concert presentations of 17th- and 18th-century operas while confirming that the more traditional facet of the genre remains an important element of the world of music.

Let’s hear from the festival’s manager once again: “We want to showcase opera through its incredible diversity and through a review of styles, categories and eras. This makes the festival acclaimed in Poland, Europe and around the globe as a great partner for myriad artistic projects. Singers, musicians, directors and conductors flock to Kraków and they don’t just ‘perform’ works from their current repertoire – they join us to co-create spectacles and concerts.” This is exactly how this year’s repertoire has been developed, as well as events such as the inaugural concert of World Opera Day. During this autumn instalment of Opera Rara Kraków, Christina Pluhar presented Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo (with the ensemble L’Arpeggiata) and later agreed to lead Capella Cracoviensis in Mozart’s Requiem – as it turned out, her first performance of this masterpiece! “The most important thing is to simply present good art,” summarises Marzena Lubaszka.

1 February 2024, Thursday 7pm
2 February 2024, Friday 7pm
3 February 2024, Saturday 1pm lunchtime opera
4 February 2024, Sunday 4pm sunday afternoon performance
National Synchrotron Radiation Centre SOLARIS of the Jagiellonian University, ul. Czerwone Maki 98
Karol Nepelski Solaris
Waldemar Raźniak direction
Hashtag Ensemble
Lilianna Krych conductor
production: Opera Rara Kraków and National Stary Theatre

6 February 2024, Tuesday 7pm
7 February 2024, Wednesday 7pm
8 February 2024, Thursday 7pm
Fausto Romitelli An Index of Metals
Kenka Lekovich libretto
Paolo Pachini Leonardo Romoli video
Anna Zawisza soprano
Spółdzielnia Muzyczna

8 February 2024, Thursday 7pm
10 February 2024, Saturday 7:30pm
11 February 2024, Sunday 4pm
Łaźnia Nowa Theatre
Filiberto Laurenzi Guerra non porta serenata
Giacomo Carissimi Jephte

Krzysztof Garbaczewski staging
– Zbigniew Malak tenor
Jephte's Daughter – Solomiia Pavlenko soprano
Magdalena Łukawska soprano
Antonina Ruda soprano
Matylda Staśto alto
Jarosław Kitala bass
Andreas Arend theorbo/musical direction

9 February 2024, Friday 7pm
10 February 2024, Saturday 4pm
11 February 2024, Sunday noon
Juliusz Słowacki Theatre
Aleksander Nowak I, Şeküre
Marcin Chlanda staging
Jędrzej Jęcikowski light
– Aleksandra Żakiewicz soprano
Meddah – Jan Jakub Monowid countertenor
Kara – Bartosz Gorzkowski tenor
Illustrator I – Sebasstian Szumski baritone
Illustrator II – Jacek Wróbel baritone
Enişte – Maciej Straburzyński bass
Spółdzielnia Muzyczna
Polish Radio Choir
Maciej Tomasiewicz conductor

9 February 2024, Friday 5pm
Juliusz Słowacki Theatre, Mirror Hall
Franz Schubert Winterreise
Thomas E. Bauer baritone
Siegfried Mause piano

11 February 2024, Sunday 7:30pm
12 February 2024, Monday 7pm
Łaźnia Nowa Theatre
Felix Mendelssohn Die erste Walpurgisnacht
Piotr Stanek Mikołaj Karczewski choreography
Capella Cracoviensis
Jan Tomasz Adamus conductor

18 February 2024, Sunday 7pm
Juliusz Słowacki Theatre

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Idomeneo concert version
Idomeneo – Ian Bostridge tenor
Idamante – Kangmin Justin Kim countertenor
Ilia – Anna Prohaska soprano
Elettra – Ewa Tracz soprano
Arbace – Juan Sancho tenor
Gran Sacerdote – Krzysztof Lachman tenor
Capella Cracoviensis
Alessandro Moccia conductor

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