Celebrating the composer's bicentenary
Moniuszko made a young Highland girl the heroine of his opera. A peasant’s daughter in love with a nobleman’s son; a poor girl and a wealthy young master: this love was downright impossible. The same went for making a simple country woman an opera heroine. Warsaw initially rejected Halka and the opera had to wait ten years to be staged in the city.
In 1858 Moniuszko was appointed Director of the Teatr Wielki, the Warsaw opera house. This was the most prominent music job available in Polish lands in the 19th century. Bathed in glory as the author of the now-sensationally received Halka, Moniuszko became a popular figure in Warsaw almost overnight; people would even recognize him in the streets.
After Halka he took time to write The Raftsman (1858), The Countess (1859), Verbum Nobile (1860), The Haunted Manor (1862), Paria (1869) and Beata (1871). At the same time, he worked on a few projects that were never completed (the operas Rokiczana, The Seer’s Dream and Trea), successive cantatas (Crimean Sonnets) and religious music.
The composer’s presence is definitely strongest on Warsaw’s Teatralny Square. His statue stands in front of the east wing of the Teatr Wielki, and he is also the patron of the opera house’s main auditorium. Rebuilt from rubble after World War II together with the whole theater, the auditorium officially opened on November 20 1965, with the premiere of The Haunted Manor. It was named after the composer in 1996.
The Moniuszko Auditorium is one of the biggest opera auditoriums in the world: it can seat 1,768 people in its stalls, amphitheater and three balconies. The stage itself occupies an enormous area of 1,150 square meters. It is 36.5 meters wide and almost 34.5 meters high. The stage opening is 17.5 meters wide and 10.5 meters high.
The Central Railway Station in Warsaw is the only Polish railway station to have been given a patron. The ceremony took place on January 5 2019 on the initiative of the Society of Moniuszko Music Lovers Krzysztof Mamiński, president of Polish State Railways (PKP S.A.). The idea was originally put forward in 2014 by conductor Mieczysław Nowakowski, a member of the Society.
Translated into English by:
Joanna Dutkiewicz, Monika Tacikowska
Viva Moniuszko! is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Viva Moniuszko! (Opera Gallery, Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera, 27 December 2018-12 May 2019)