The Queen that loved a German. Our album Wanda premieres on 31st March!

The Queen that loved a German. Our album Wanda premieres on 31st March!

20 / 03 / 2023
Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa’s musical version of the tale of Cracow’s legendary ruler, taken from Norwid’s ‘mystery play’ and translated into the language of contemporary opera, is the most recent addition to our catalogue. The blu-ray disc contains a recording of the opera’s production featuring Agata Schmidt, Tomasz Konieczny, Andrzej Lampert, and Paula Maciołek, as well as a documentary film about the composer titled Under the Pressure of Sound and the Word, directed by Violetta Rotter-Kozera.

The writings of Cyprian Kamil Norwid were present in the life of Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa from her earliest years. However, it was eminent actress Jadwiga Halina Gallowa, a legendary teacher from Cracow’s Academy of Theatre Arts (now the AST), that instilled in the future composer a fascination with Norwid’s Wanda. As a student at secondary music school, Joanna joined a ‘Live Word Club’ run by Gallowa and played the title role in a production of the play prepared during the Club’s meetings. By creating a musical setting of Wanda and dedicating it to her former mentor, the composer thus symbolically thanks Gallowa for the instruction and inspiration from her youth.

Wnuk-Nazarowa follows Norwid in his interpretation of the legend about Prince Krakus’ daughter. In his play, the queen’s decision to drown in the Vistula is not motivated by an attempt to avoid marrying a Germanic chieftain. Norwid’s Wanda is a strong and wise monarch, forced to choose between her love for Rüdiger and obligations towards her subjects. This tragic dilemma, the choice of either personal happiness or the common good – is indeed an ideal subject for an operatic libretto.

Wanda is Wnuk-Nazarowa’s first opera and the world’s second (after Antonín Dvořák’s Vanda) completed and staged work dedicated to this legendary Polish monarch. it is also an adaptation, unique on the global scale, of Norwid’s text for the musical language of the opera.

‘I have introduced no quotations and no Old Polish music stylisations, though the cracovienne dance rhythm does appear in the Maid’s part – but this results directly from the rhythm of the text. Norwid wrote it this way and so I could not neglect it. In the scene of Wanda’s reflections one may observe, in turn, the contour of a kuyaviak, and the funeral march heard as she ascends the mound is in fact a quasi-polonaise in the time of 5/4. Nevertheless, the whole is very much rooted in the musical language of our own time, though far from avant-garde,’ the composer explains.

Our blu-ray release presents the world premiere performance of the work, which took place on 10th September 2021 in the Arcaded Courtyard of Wawel Royal Castle. The production, which was a result of cooperation between PWM Edition, Cracow Opera, Polish Radio Channel Two, and Wawel Royal Castle, was one of the most important events of the Norwid Year. The Wawel production was directed by Waldemar Zawodziński, and musically directed by Michał Klauza, who conducted the Cracow Opera Orchestra, Choir, Children’s Choir, and Ballet. The solo parts were sung by Agata Schmidt (Wanda), Tomasz Konieczny (Castellan), Andrzej Lampert (Rüdiger / Skald), and Paula Maciołek (Maid).

The other element of this release is the documentary Under the Pressure of Sound and the Word, directed by Violetta Rotter-Kozera, which presents Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa’s rich and complex life as a conductor, composer, and woman entirely dedicated to culture. The film recounts the key events in her professional, artistic, and personal biography.

WANDA is now released in the IMAGES series and will go into distribution as of 31st March. It will be available from the best bookstores and music shops, as well as the virtual shop of the empik chain.

1st April at 6.30 p.m. at Cracow Opera, Wanda will have its theatrical premiere, prepared by the same artists who created the Wawel production. The spectacle will be repeated on 2nd, 4th, and 5th April. On Sunday 2nd April following the opera presentation, the audience will be able to watch the film about the composer and meet Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa in person. The documentary, titled Under the Pressure of Sound and the Word, produced by PWM Edition and Polish Television TVP S.A. and directed by Violetta Rotter-Kozera, recounts the main events in the composer’s professional, artistic, and personal biography in the context of filmed preparations for Wanda’s world premiere, which took place in 2021 in the Arcaded Courtyard of Wawel Royal Castle.

#sharpenyourears for the IMAGES series from ANAKLASIS.

Media patrons of the release: TVP Kultura, Polskie Radio Program
Release partner: Ruch Muzyczny
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