Opera in two acts
Renewal | 19th May 2019
Music Director | Marcin Sompoliński
Set Designer| Jan Polewka
Renewal Director | Renata Tokarska-Nikodem
Recreation and development of the score | Maciej Prochaska
Jontek | Tomasz Rak / Kamil Zdebel
Janusz | Arkadiusz Anyszka / Artur Janda
Cześnik | Jarosław Bręk
Zofia | Anna Wolfinger
Marszałek Dworu | Dariusz Górski
Góral | Robert Mojsa
VOCAL ENSEMBLE OF WARSAW CHAMBER OPERA
Chorus Master | Krzysztof Kusiel-Moroz
ANCIENT INSTRUMENTS ENSEMBLE OF WARSAW CHAMBER OPERA |MUSICAE ANTIQUAE COLLEGIUM VARSOVIENSE
Vilnius version of Halka by S. Moniuszko – a reconstruction of the work
The first, two-act version of Halka was presented in the stage version on January 1, 1848 in Vilnius. According to the witnesses of this spectacle, local amateurs and Vilnius musicians gathered in a 40-member orchestra to perform as soloist and choristers. (W. Rudziński, J. Prosnak Moniuszko Almanac, Cracow 1952, p. 44-46). It was the first orchestral version of this opera, the score which was then used by the composer has not been found so far and perhaps it has gone forever. This first version of Halka was an extremely cohesive and dramaturgically dynamic composition. Preparing the opera to be performed in Warsaw ten years later, Moniuszko split two acts into four, adding the most famous arias of Halka and Jontek, writing ballet scenes and probably re-sketched the score to adjust it to the greater possibilities of the Warsaw Opera.
During this work, the composer also made changes to some solo parts, changed the names of certain characters, and the libretto was adapted to the requirements of a fine Warsaw audience. In the course of the composition, some fragments were also re-composed, Moniuszko transformed harmony, instrumentation and some performance details. The only trace of the original version of Halka is the manuscript of the piano extract from 1848. This manuscript is kept in the Poznań Society of the Friends of Sciences and was published by PWM (Polish Music Publishing House) edited by Erwin Nowaczyk. This manuscript and the first score’s print from 1862 of the Warsaw version of Halka became the basis for the new reconstruction of the Vilnius Halka, conducted on behalf of the Warsaw Chamber Opera on the occasion of Moniuszko Year.
The intent of the new musical reconstruction was to recreate the sound version, full and as close as possible to the first Vilnius score, that had been lost. The result of these reconstruction works was incorporated into the already existing staging directed by Kazimierz Dejmek. This staging was created in the 80’s and in terms of music was developed by Jerzy Dobrzański. This version, written very skillfully and with flair, did not fully reproduce the sound characteristics of early works by Moniuszko. Furthermore, in the orchestral layout it was in some respects separate from the style of Moniuszko orchestration.
The musical and stage form of this opera version is a testimony to the compositional skills of Moniuszko and his particular sense of drama. This version of Halka is approaching the idea of musical drama, so it lacks a series of numbers typical of the opera. Individual musical episodes are formed as part of the scenes, although Moniuszko uses recitatives, ariosos, arias and choirs, but all these elements are combined. Noteworthy are also the finals of both acts, shaped into longer structures, in which the tension gradually increases up to the clearly outlined climax points. This musical reconstruction faithfully reflects the music and dramaturgy of the manuscript from 1848. At the same time, the orchestral layout was based largely on the first print from 1862. The music of the original Vilnius version of Halka was thus faithfully preserved, simultaneously taking Moniuszko’s orchestration from the Warsaw version. Owing to the work carried out in this specific manner, the characteristic Moniuszko sound was obtained and, where possible, the originals, almost source ones, based on two early sources.
In the Year of Stanisław Moniuszko, Halka’s performance has been resumed in a renewed music version, which is intended to be a special gift from the creators of the performance and the Management of the Warsaw Chamber Opera for music lovers. This is probably the most faithful reconstruction of the Vilnius version of Halka that has been created to this day.
In the Cześnik’s garden, after the engagement ceremony of his daughter Zofia and young Janusz, the nobles cheer and raise toasts in their honour. The marriage of Zofia and Janusz unites two noble families, Pomian and Odrowąż. Cześnik blesses the bride and groom, but Halka‘s voice from the distance interferes him. Poor highlander is looking for her Jasiek (Janusz), who seduced her and with whom she fell in love. Cześnik and Janusz taking care of Zofia‘s peace cover up the incident. Janusz decides to calm Halka down. The girl dreams of meeting Janusz, who is coming and deceiving the poor girl, promising her life and happiness together. However, he sends her out of the city, where he promises to meet her again.
Jontek tries to make Halka realize that she is being cheated. Halka does not believe in Jontek’s words. Trying to break into the engagement ceremony, the girl dreams that Janusz is the father of her child. The nobles and the Marshal are witnesses to the madness of the heroine, and they have her dismiss the ceremony. Finally, Janusz also orders to throw her away. Jontek and Halka leave in a depressing sense of defeat and suffering.
The time of Zofia and Janusz wedding has come. In the mountain village, on Sunday afternoon, a bell is heard proclaiming the end of Vespers. The people leave the chapel after the service and comment the fate in a singing. Suddenly they notice coming Jontek with changed Halka. He tells what happened in the garden at Cześnik. His story has outraged the people.
A young couple with Marshal and Cześnik at the head come to the wedding. People obediently greet Zofia, Cześnik and Janusz with loud singing. Janusz notices the intrusion of Halka and is rushing the entrance to the chapel. Singing of church songs with the accompaniment of organs is heard. Jontek convinces Halka to look at the young couple in front of the altar. Halka’s world collapses. She tells the story of a dying child and decides to take revenge on Janusz, but deep inside she knows that she could not kill in the name of lost love. Forgiving Janusz, she blesses the young couple and decides to end her own life.
(Synopsis of the libretto by Bartosz Buława and Maciej Prochaska)