After the success of Andrzej Czajkowski's opera at the Bregenz Festival and the National Opera in Warsaw, the production will be staged in six British opera theatres. Beginning at the Welsh National Opera in Cardiff, the tour will end at the Royal Opera House in London. The Merchant of Venice is a co-production of the Bregenz Festival, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and the Polska Music Programme as well as the Grand Theatre National Opera in Warsaw.
In July 2013 during the Austrian Bregenzer Festspiele, the shore of Constance Lake was the location of the first rendition of The Merchant of Venice, an opera written more than a quarter century ago by Andrzej Czajkowski, Polish composer and outstanding pianist. A year later, the production made its way to the National Opera in Warsaw, and now it will tour six British opera houses: from Bristol through to the Welsh town of Llandudno, through to prestigious Covent Garden in London.
Czajkowski worked on his opera from 1968 until he passed away in 1982. Apart from a couple of pages of orchestration, he managed to finish almost the entire opera. The libretto, based on William Shakespeare's comedy, was adapted by the composer's friend, John O'Brien. The Merchant of Venice consists of three acts and an epilogue, and was written for an orchestra, including a piano and a harpsichord. David Pountney, opera director and former artistic director of the Bregenz Festival, described Czajkowski's piece as ‘polytonal, existing somewhere between the world of Britten and Berg’.
The Shakespearean opera is directed by Keith Warner, an artist of worldwide repute who has directed over 150 operas, plays and musicals, including Berg's Wozzeck at the Royal Opera House, which received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production in 2003, and Krzysztof Penderecki's The Devils of Loudon at the National Opera in Warsaw.
Organised by the Welsh National Opera, the British premiere of The Merchant of Venice directed by Keith Warner, will take place on 16th September 2016 at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. The next performances will take place at The Bristol Hippodrome (11th October), the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton (1st November), the Birmingham Hippodrome (8th November), and the Venue Cymru in Llandudno (22nd November). On 19th and 20th July 2017, Czajkowski's opera, conducted by Lionel Friend, will be staged at the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden. Since 2014, the Welsh National Opera has been a summer resident each year at the Royal Opera House. All the events are part of Shakespeare 400, the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death.
Andrzej Czajkowski's opera is not the only Polish accent in the newly announced 2016-2017 season of the ROH. London audiences will also have a chance to listen to Polish opera singers.
Artur Ruciński will sing the role of Giorgio Germont in Verdi's La Traviata (in January and February 2017). Polish tenor Krystian Adam will perform as Abbe in Francesco Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur (February and March 2017), while Aleksandra Kurzak will play Adina, the main protagonist in Gaetano Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore (June 2017) as well as Liù in Puccini's Turandot (July 2017).
Source: press release, written by FL, translated by OK, 12 Apr 2016