Theatre, film and opera director, noted television producer. Born on 25 December 1942, in Mala Hradna, Slovakia.
He studied architecture in Bratislava. In 1973, he graduated from the Film Department of the FAMU Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. He has lived and worked in Poland since the early 1970s.
He debuted in 1973, in Television Theatre, with his production of Biała zaraza (White Plague) by Karol Čapek. Since then, he has produced and directed primarily for the small screen. As a filmmaker, he has always combined direction with production in order to achieve his vision. He pioneered the use of new film techniques. For example, in (The Post Office) Poczta by Rabindranath Tagore (1975), he experimented with synchronous sound effects; in Burza Szekspira (Shakespeare's Tempest), in 1991, he applied visual effects during the editing process and in Don Carlos, by Friedrich Schiller (1995), the stage settings were enhanced by computer graphics. In polished television productions that exuded formal discipline, he made skilful use of both wide shots and close-ups. Yet it was the actors who benefited most from his contributions, as is evident from the number of renowned performances given in his productions. About his work on television drama productions, Adamik said:
(...) A television director must create the production's final form and appearance on the screen. It isn't enough to merely understand the text and be able to work with the actors. He added that the most important thing in a television production is: (...) The h u m a n f a c e. It is through it that all intent and meaning should be channelled in an artistic television production. This isn't to say that I overlook stage setting in television, on the contrary, but in my productions I strip it down to the point where it works only as a meaningful symbol. Naturalistic stage sets aren't very effective in television and, in any case, they're almost impossible to get right in the studio. (Teatr 1984, nr 11)
Laco Adamik's long-time collaborator in his accomplishments is Barbara Kędzierska, the author of a number of scripts for the director's productions. Laco Adamik has most often turned to the classics.
To work on the classics - he confided - implies a reverence for connecting with good, proven theatre, like in opera. Modern drama is weak. What excites me is creativity. That's why I create mostly in the studio, where I can make a work that is its own, complete world. (Echo Krakowa 10.04.1997)
For Television Theatre he has produced, such performances as Pelleas i Melisanda by Maurice Maeterlinck (1977) with Agnieszka Holland, Lorenzaccio by Alfred de Musset (1978), Boris Godunov by Alexander Pushkin (1981), as well as Elżbieta, królowa Anglii (Elizabeth of England) by Ferdinand Bruckner (1984), which included outstanding performances by Teresa Budzisz-Krzyżanowska, Jan Frycz and Marek Walczewski.Barbara Osterloff on Adamik's staging of Elizabeth of England:
I'm under the impression that Adamik has created a perfect, exceptionally lucid and beautiful production. But where he truly surprised me was in the fluidity and clarity of the narration, the picturesque beauty of the shots, the coherent use of space, the excellent interplay of light and shadow - all of which, I think, could only have been achieved through television techniques. Finally, we have been given a production that is not a hybrid creation of theatre and film, but belongs to the one and only: Television Theatre (Teatr 1985, nr 2).
His follow-up production, featuring an acclaimed performance by Budzisz-Krzyżanowska, was Phèdre by Jean Racine (1985). In sustained close-ups of the main protagonist, the director was able to show the character's truth in her inner strength and struggle. The resulting production gave classical writing new emotion and modernity in its portrayal of love, hate and guilt. Adamik's interpretation of Sophocles Oedipus Rex also relied on a penetrating examination of the protagonists. Oedipus (Jan Frycz) sought truth with absolute determination, only to eventually face a painful reality. Hanna Baltyn wrote that the story, which shone with a powerful moral certitude, was told 'without any of the pitying relativism so common in our time. Just as the Greek master intended. Without mercy' (Życie Warszawy 19.10.1992).
In 1995, Adamik filmed an adaptation of the stage production of Don Carlos by Friedrich Schiller. With the skilful contributions of his actors, Adamik was able to effectively show the tragic love and political drama that were the two great interconnected themes of Schiller's work. In Woyzeck (2000) Georg Büchner's unfinished 1836 drama, the director's raw depiction of 19th century realities showed a thoroughly decadent and greedy world.
Among the 20th-Century texts that Adamik adapted for Television Theatre was Franz Kafka's The Trial (1980). Produced in collaboration with Agnieszka Holland, Adamik's adaptation remained faithful to the novel's multiplicity of meaning. He created an intentionally cold production, replete with austere yet visually compelling scenes. Adamik concentrated on Joseph K's condition, fears and obsessions. The Trial featured exceptional performances by Roman Wilhelmi, Zbigniew Zapasiewicz and Olgierd Łukaszewicz. In his 1997 adaptation of the Julian Stryjkowski novel Przybysz z Narbony (Stranger from Narbonne), Adamik masterfully weaved together historical depiction and suspenseful storytelling, while examining questions of freedom of conscience.
Roman Pawłowski wrote about Adamik's 1997 production of Mother Courage and Her Children by Bertolt Brecht, remarking that
Here, war had the face of an old huckster. (...) Adamik mined the play for all the human vice that rises to the surface in those situations (Gazeta Wyborcza 30.09.1997).
Since his 1977 debut as opera director - with La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini at the Teatr Wielki in Łódź, Adamik has never stopped working in musical theatre. Of opera direction, he has said:
The director has so much to accomplish, even if it might seem like his role is secondary, hidden behind the music. In reality, the music disciplines the director, who must harmonize his vision with it. But it has to be done in such a way that the audience believes the opposite - that it's the music illustrating the libretto and complementing the performance (Rzeczpospolita 16.04.2004).
Adamik's opera productions include The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the Grand Theatre in Warsaw, 1983, Tosca by Giacomo Puccini at Kraków's Opera i Operetka, 1997, Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi at the Grand Theatre in Łódź, 1991 and Kraków's Opera i Operetka in 2001, Tannhäuser by Richard Wagner at the Silesian Opera in Bytom in 2001), Straszny dwór (The Haunted Manor) by Stanisław Moniuszko at the Kraków Opera in 2002) and Aida by Verdi at the Silesian Opera in Bytom, 2003. Adamik also frequently produces large-scale music shows at major festivals, such as those in Sopot and Opole.
In recent years, he has directed operas at Opera Nova in Bydgoszcz, Wrocław Opera, the Kraków Opera, Grand Theatre in Łódź, the Silesian Opera in Bytom and Teatr Wielki - National Opera in Warsaw. In 2004, he made a triumphant return with Tosca by Giacomo Puccini at the Opera Nova in Bydgoszcz, 2004.
Adamik also revisited La Bohème at the Grand Theatre in Łódź in 2007, the same play with which he had made his opera direction debut 30 years earlier. His production of Carmen by Georges Bizet (Teatr Wielki in Łódź, 2006) was realistic and unadorned, set principally in the cigar factory and in the streets, and attenuated the feverish emotions and passions that characterise Bizet's composition. Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi (Silesian Opera in Bytom, 2007), with its versatile stage settings and dynamic lighting to enhance the action on stage, was a beautiful spectacle, in which the director successfully harmonised a great variety of elements. Adamik also returned to the works of Stanisław Moniuszko. At the Wrocław opera, he staged Halka (2005). He exposed the work's universal meanings in a simple, theatrical production that told a story of love and the collision of conflicting realities. He also directed Straszny dwór (The Haunted Manor, 2009), in which he attempted to present a modern perspective on sarmatism (an idea once popular among Polish nobility, tracing Poland's national heritage to the ancient Sarmatian tribes of Central Asia). In Diabły z Loudun ( The Devils of Loudun) by Krzysztof Penderecki (Kraków Opera, 2008), Adamik gave a fascinating portrayal of the conflict between politics and religion, and its omnipresence. He twice produced Manru by Ignacy Paderewski (Opera Nova in Bydgoszcz, 2006; Silesian Opera in Bytom, 2009), which he situated in modern realities. Old history became current events. The opera portrayed the difficult relationships among various communities and the individuals who find themselves caught in the middle.
Adamik has directed four films, one of which was a theatrical release. In 1978, he debuted with Wsteczny bieg" / "Reverse Gear - a dramatic portrayal of sacrifice and responsibility. He followed up with Cham" / "Scoundrel (1979), based on the novel by Eliza Orzeszkowa. Next, was the television series Crimen (1988), adapted from the novel by Józef Hen. Adamik's only theatrical release, thus far, was the psychological drama Mężczyzna niepotrzebny! (Man Not Necessary!,1981), which depicted the love shared by two people and the difficult moral choices they must face.
Author: Monika Mokrzycka-Pokora, November 2004. Translated by Jerzy Kamecki, December 2011.
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