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Monday, 27 July 2015

La Traviata or... Moulin Rouge

My dear friends,

The performances of ‘Orpheus and Eurydice’ by Ch. W. Gluck concluded the 19th Krakow Opera Summer Festival, which took place from 14 June to 5 July. This year’s edition was rich in artistic events, including open-air events held in the enchanting scenery of the Arcade Courtyard at the Wawel Royal Castle.
Undeniably, the most awaited highlight was the concert ‘World Opera Arias’ featuring the world renowned tenor Piotr Beczała accompanied by the Krakow Opera Orchestra under the baton of Łukasz Borowicz. The Krakow audience awarded the artist, who has been conquering all major stages in the world, with a triple standing ovation. 
The Festival Main Poster
The Wawel courtyard witnessed also a performance of C. Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’ executed by an over 200-person artistic ensemble of the Krakow Opera and the flag-juggling group Griffin Guard. The oratorio was performed by soloists including Katarzyna Oleś-Blacha, Mariusz Godlewski, Stanisław Kufluk, and Adam Sobierajski, and a nearly 90-person choir prepared by Zygmunt Magiera, as well as the Krakow Opera Children’s Choir. The rousing music was complemented with choreographies by Emil Wesołowski. Tomasz Tokarczyk conducted the Artists and the Orchestra of the Krakow Opera. ‘Carmina Burana’ was also presented on the Market Square in Jasło as part of the 650th anniversary of obtaining city rights. 
Iwona Socha has everything that an opera singer needs to have: beautiful voice, looks and charm. ‘Traviata’ earned yet another great performer, said editor Jacek Chodorkowski about the débutant soloist.
A view from the 3rd floor of the Opera House
The Krakow Opera Summer Festival was a spectacular finish of the closing artistic season. The average attendance at the Festival events amounted to 100.64%. The Opera presented 13 events which were seen by 12,331 spectators.

The 19th Krakow Opera Summer Festival provided music lovers with many emotions and attractions. The brilliant idea to hold some of the concerts at the Wawel Royal Castle, a unique place that simply loves music, proved once again to be flawless… The arcade courtyard is a truly magical setting for music… The repertoire including not only the most recent, but also older productions of our opera theatre reveals how great artists we have and how vast their abilities are.Anna Kańska-Małachowska,, 4 July 2015 (source)
The La Traviata Ticket
The festival always attracted me but I never got the chance and time to buy the tickets - the syncronisation was aweful and I was always too late... This year my awesome husband surprised me, enticed by the Film Music Festival in Krakow that we went in June & the moving Easter concert at the Ice Arena, he bought us tickets to the La Traviata performance. And not just any places, but the best places of the house, first row - middle - main balcony area - rating per person at 120 zloty (around 30 euro). We had been to the Opera House on Lubicz before, for the Swan Lake, but we did not have that kind of seating, so it was a pleasure to see the whole scene from a broader angle :) 
I am not sure if you ever went to the Opera and if you are fond of it, but I love it! I would do this on a weekly basis if possible and sometimes I really miss the University times, when I would be able to go each weekend and see Traviata or maybe a bit of ballet or just a cello concert... Here in Krakow things are not as easy as one would think, to get tickets for a show at the Opera. First you need to make a reservation, fill out a form, send the form via email and make a money transfer to the Opera account and after all is settled you need to wait for the email saying you can pick the tickets up from the Opera house... no direct transfer, no online tickets... and you MUST reserve tickets at least 2-3 months in advance! This is the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) and there is no workaround it!
GOING UP! Taking the elevator up to the 3rd floor - Loza Marszalkowska
In the year 1853 Verdi had seen Alexander Dumas’ “La dame aux camélias”. It was interesting especially because of the society reasons. It was a story about the writer’s love to a famous Parisian courtesan Marie Duplessis. He was so encharmed with her that he forgot about his strict rules and squandered his money. His financial status forced him to leave her. But after her death (she died of tuberculosis in the age of 23), his feeling flared up again. He dedicated one of his best romances to her – at first as a novel and later as a theatrical performance. 
Verdi was very brave to choose this romance for his new libretto. In sinful Paris the story had a taste of scandal, in religious Italy it was a scandal. The first performance was a failure. The audience couldn’t accept that the main character is an immoral courtesan and what’s more she is a likable person, the only positive in the play. It didn’t like that the opera took place in the present (they wanted orientalism and history) and that the heroine dies in a banal way – from tuberculosis, in her own bed. Those people didn’t see that it was a monument for one of the most important parts of life in Italy – the family. The courtesan Violetta lives together with Alfredo because she wants to have a family after the years of loneliness. She agrees to leave him only after she has been convinced by his father that it is for his own good. She sacrifices her love to rescue the family of her beloved. She knows that the family is the most important; she is understood better by Alfredo’s father than the boy himself. Their duet in which Violetta asks for holding her tight just as a father holds his daughter is the central part of the opera.
The view from the Loza (Balcony)
After the failure Verdi changed his work a little bit. He placed it at the beginning of XIXth century and he changed the title: from the irritating "La Traviata" ("The Fallen Woman") to a neutral "Violetta". This time, in Venece, it was a success (and only a year later!).
Today this opera is a quintessence of opera’s style. For example, the synopsis: a story of young people, who cannot be together because of the social conventions and the family of a boy. However it is encharming because of Verdi’s music: subtle, sometimes passionate. There are many popular parts in this opera, especially including a duet "Libiamo"!
The lovely ticket case & programme of the Festival
Here is the synopsis - SPOILER ALERT!!! - Paris, the second half of XIXth century. A beautiful courtesan Violetta abandons her happy but empty life and binds with s young nobleman Alfred Germont. His father demands that Violetta leaves, because this relationship disgraces the Germont family. Violetta agrees for Alfredo’s sake, however he doesn’t know the reason and offends her in public. Abandoned by everybody, poor and ill, Violetta is dying all alone. In her last moments the Germonts arrive – Alfred found out about everything and begs her to forgive him. Violetta dies. 
I had seen La Traviata before and head arias from it over and over again, at work when I was trying to relax, but I have to admit that I never made the connection between Alexandre Dumas's book, Verdi's music and the movie Moulin Rouge. Why would one make such a connection? For me, it was a shock to realise something that has slipped my mind before... Paris is the scene is all 3 mentioned operas and the lifeline of the main female character is the same: she is sick - she falls in love - she refuses the one she loves - the one she loves rebels against her - there is always the 3rd wheel duke... loving her - she dies... I know, it sounds brutal and short - but is that not how we all see life? a chain of events, one after another, leading us to the final moment: death! The bohemian revolution is upon us, yet there is somewhere this couple that was meant to be together but they are taken apart by death. 
It does not matter that love is strong, that she wishes to be cured, that they want to spent their whole lifetime with eachother. It seems as if someone else has a different plan for them. It is as if Alexandre Dumas is trying to tell us that, maybe, sometimes love is not all roses and butterflies and happiness... maybe sometimes it is dark, strange and it makes us do things that deep inside we do not wish to do - like run away from the ones we love, thinking that in this way we do not hurt them on the long term. We think the pain will pass and ease if we say we do not love them and we go away. We never want them to hear the bad news - that we are terminally ill... We refuse to be happy with the time that was given to us, we sacrifice ourself up to the very last moment. What I love the most in La Traviata is the end moment, when Violetta is on her deathbed yet she has hope that she will get better and be with Alfred. I find it fascinating how hope can move people. Hope and love! "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" - 1 Corinthians 13:13

DISCLAIMER - Pictures were taken with the camera from my Samsung Galaxy S4 so I appologise if things get sometimes a bit fuzzy, I did not want to use the flash and the light was not brilliant but you guys are smart and get the picture ;) - Copyrights reserved :) 

P.S. The Opera Krakowska on Lubicz was founded in 1954 in post-war Kraków, Poland, although the tradition of opera in the city dates back to 1628 when the first full libretto in Polish was released by the local publishing house. The architectural style of the building is post-modern and it is hard to miss as it is located on the corner of one of the most circulated round-abouts + the building is all red ;) The 443 of the Big Scene includes: 18 trapdoors (including 2 collapsing to the pit, allowing for additional maneuvering space), revolving stage and a video projection apparatus. I have never seen the Small Scene but hopefully in the future I can tell you about it :)

Yours truly,
The Twisted Red LadyBug that loves the Opera