Marek Weiss is a theatre and opera director, born in Chorzów on 23rd March, 1949.
Theatre and opera director, born in Chorzów on 23rd March, 1949.
Weiss graduated from the Polish Studies Faculty of Warsaw University (1974) and the Theatre Directing Faculty of the Theatre Academy in Warsaw (1980). During his studies (under the name Marek Grzesiński), he had already began working with the National Theatre as assistant director. He debuted at the same theatre in 1978 with his staging of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida.
Even before receiving his degree, he was appointed the director of the newly-created Music Theatre in Słupsk, which he ran from 1979 to 1981. In that institution, he staged Mąż i Żona (Husband and Wife) by Aleksander Fredro, and the opera The Maid Mistress by Pergolesi. He received a scholarship from the British Institute which allowed him to pursue Shakespearean studies in England, resulting in several productions of Shakespeare plays, such as Hamlet (1981), awarded at the festival in Toruń. In the same year, together with Janusz Wiśniewski, he staged Manekiny (The Mannequins) by Zbigniew Rudzinski at the Wrocław Opera, which a few months later was performed at the Grand Theatre in Warsaw. The international success of the play, which was performed until the 90s on numerous European stages, made Marek Grzesiński devoted to opera.
From 1982 to 88, he was the head director of The Grand Theatre in Warsaw and the first artist who unwaveringly kept refreshing the style of staging Polish operas. During this period, he produced performances such as Alban Berg’s Wozzeck (1984), Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot (1984), Ludwig von Beethoven’s Fidelio, Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth (1985) and Aida (1986), Rainer Kunad’s The Master and Margarita (1986, also as a TV production for German channel ZDF), Jonanna Bruzdowicz Bramy Raju (Gates of Paradise), Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades (1988). In his stagings, while not renouncing historical costumes, he strived to search out the timeless contents and even ideas that were especially valid to the audience of the time. Therefore, the productions of Turandot and Fidelio, which refer to the power of authority enforcing obedience on its subjects, inscribed themselves ideally into the social mood of the first half of the 80s in Poland.
Weiss also made his first foreign productions during this period: Verdi’s Turandot in Sofia in 1984, Kurt Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny in Tel Aviv in 1986, and Agnieszka Osiecka’s Apetyt na Czereśnie (Appetite for Cherries) in Tel Aviv in 1988.
He returned to Warsaw's Grand Theatre as its chief director in 1992, and in 1995 he became artistic director of the Grand Theatre in Poznań (where he stayed until 2001). During this period, he realised many productions which were stylistically similar to his earlier stagings. Among the most important were: Nabucco (Warsaw, 1992, Poznań, 1995), and Salome by Richard Strauss (Warsaw, 1993, Poznań, 1998), Penderecki's Paradise Lost (Warsaw, 1993), Charles Gounod’s Faust (Warsaw, 1994), Mikis Theodorakis’s Elektra (Poznań, 1995), Verdi's Il Trovatore (Poznań, 1996), Modest Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov (Poznań, 1996), Penderecki’s The Devils of Loudun (Poznań, 1998), Marcel Landowski’s Galina (Poznań , 1999; staged also at the EXPO 2000 in Hanover), and Stanisław Moniuszko's Halka (Poznań, 2000).
As Marek Weiss-Grzesiński, he was the director of the North Theatre in Warsaw (formerly the Comedy Theatre) from 1990 to 1991, where he staged Marat Sade by Peter Weiss and his own drama Possession, which is a paraphrasing of the libretto of Krzysztof Penderecki's opera The Devils of Loudun, which he had staged in the Teatr Wielki in Lódź. In the same theatre, he produced a widely discussed performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
At this time, he directed the so-called blockbusters of Nabucco and Aida for a several-thousand-strong audience at Centennial Hall in Wrocław. Moreover, in the National Opera, he once again staged Mozart's Don Giovanni, and Karol Szymanowski’s King Roger in Buffalo and Detroit, as well as Moniuszko's Straszny Dwór (The Haunted Manor) in Buffalo and Verdi's La Traviata and Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in Seoul. Many of his performances were shown in Paris, London, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Moscow, Brussels, The Hague, Luxembourg, Carcassonne, Athens, Beijing, Tokyo and other cities in Europe and Asia.
Since 2001, he has collaborated with various Polish theatres. In Gdańsk, he staged Puccini’s Madame Butterfly and Gounod's Faust, in Wrocław - Carl Maria von Weber’s Freischütz and Zbigniew Rudziński’s Antigone, as well as Halka in Bytom, and Zygmunt Krauze’s Iwona, Princess of Burgundy in Warsaw.
Since 2006, as Marek Weiss, he has been full-time director of the Warsaw Chamber Opera, where he staged two of his acclaimed performances: Weber’s Freischütz and George Frideric Handel’s Julius Caesar, which was the first successfully modernized staging of a Baroque opera in Poland. In 2008, he was appointed the artistic and head director of the Baltic Opera in Gdańsk, where his premieres of Verdi’s Rigoletto, Mozart's Don Giovanni, and especially Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and Strauss Ariadne on Naxos, indicate that Mark Weiss feels the Zeitgest, and so constantly refreshes his artistic style while staging classical works, taking into account their relevance to today's reality.
Mark Weiss is also the author of the novel Boskie Życie (Divine Life), published in 2008, in which he combined the fictional story of three siblings with personal reflections on the nature of art and the rights that govern it.
Author: Jacek Marczyński, April 2010, transl. GS, 25.08.2014