other masterpiece by the composer of last season's buoyant The Haunted Manor
(Pocket Opera), similar in its
luscious melody rich with the flavor of Poland, but far different in
effect. A heartrending tale of misplaced love, somewhat akin to the ballet
Giselle. Were it in French or Italian it would no
doubt be universally known and loved as one of the great
operas of the 19th century.
Heroine of what is reputedly
cherished opera, Halka is beautiful, bright, passionate and
irresistible. Yet in the eyes of Gianni, a handsome, dashing young landowner,
she has two fatal flaws: she is poor, and she is a peasant. Nonetheless they
have a fervent romance that leads to the birth of a child. But promises of
marriage seem to become increasingly vague and elusive. Suddenly Gianni
disappears. Halka, deeply in love, cannot believe that he has abandoned her.
Accompanied by a faithful friend who has been in love with her since
childhood, she goes out searching for her missing lover and succeeds in
finding him on the very day that his engagement to the daughter of a wealthy
noblemen is being announced. The worst is yet to come, whereby Halka joins
the magnificently tragic ranks that include Norma, Donna Elvira, Gilda,
Jenufa, and Cio Cio San -- unforgettable women who fell in love with the
wrong man and in so doing inspired some of the most hauntingly beautiful,
heartrending music ever written.
A richly melodic score, steeped in Polish folk balladry and dance rhythms. It will be heard for the first time ever in a brand new
English translation. Incidentally, you may recall that Moniuszko was
also the composer of THE HAUNTED MANOR, which last season's audiences found
space for the cast of The Haunted Manor
was partially subsidized by The Polish
Club. The Haunted Manor was presented by Pocket Opera, The National Endowment for the Arts, and the Polish Arts and Culture Foundation. Polish community participants included: Patrycja Poluchowicz, Dalyte
Kodzis and Łowiczanie Polish Folk
Ensemble. Costumes and props were loaned by the Polish Arts and Culture
Foundation and Łowiczanie Polish Folk Ensemble.
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San Francisco's Pocket Opera presented the
premiere of Donald Pippin's new translation of Moniuszko's The Haunted
Manor. Pippin's distinctive and
elegant English renderings of well-known and rarely performed operas are
considered among the finest in the world.
“It is hard to think
of a more prodigiously tuneful opera after Mozart than The Haunted Manor” wrote one critic. Greatly beloved in Poland where it is often
performed, and where it is considered the
quintessential Polish opera, comparable to The Bartered Bride, the quintessential Czech opera, yet it is
practically unknown elsewhere.
Pocket Opera, with the help of a matching grant from the National
Endowment for the Arts, comes to the rescue!
Pippin, Founder of Pocket Opera, and Philip Lowery, Stage Director of The
Haunted Manor, were interviewed by Zbigniew Stanczyk, “Studio Poland,”
Sunday, April 19th on San Francisco’s KUSF (90.3 FM).
Halka to be produced
by Pocket Opera (libretto by Donald Pippin); Check Pocket