A Mozart Mosaic - the Final Gala Concert of the Warsaw Chamber Opera at the Teatr Polski, 31st Mozart Festival in Warsaw, 10th July 2022



This is a rather late nostalgic appreciation, a remembrance of a past operatic performances that were staged during this remarkable festival. I have been travelling a great deal recently associated with the classic car Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este on Lake Como and the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations in London. Also went on to Edinburgh and the discovery of a remarkable Polish historic figure, the famous nineteenth century concert virtuoso violinist Felix Yaniewicz, closely associated with the foundation of the modern Edinburgh Festival. More of that extraordinary creature in a subsequent post! 

The distinguished history of the Warsaw Chamber Opera and its present fine productions support its long-established high reputation. As I watched, the memories crowded, random in their shape and relationship. The process of thought was like an artist in mosaic I once observed in Ravenna, contemplating mounds of coloured glass, his tweezers indecisively poised whilst assembling the picture. These were perceptively selected arias, pieces of a Mozartian mosaic, carefully connected thematically and taken from all the operas presented in the festival by the same artists in their splendid and stylish costumes. 

The singing was of an exceptionally high standard and the orchestral playing of the Musicae Antiquae Collegium Varsoviense under their conductor Marcin Sompoliński (especially in the Overture to Cosi fan tutte which opened the concert) was as accomplished in period performance as always.

In the production I adored these ultra-stylish fashion statements a la that great Polish erotic Art Deco painter Tamara Łempicka (go to Lublin for the fabulous exhibition of her paintings!). The fashions on stage emerged appropriately from the decadent jazz age of the 1920s whose carefree playful atmosphere suits so much of the whimsical spirit of Mozart, especially in the amorality embedded within Cosi fan tutte, Le nozze de Figaro, some arias in the Magic Flute and of course Don Giovanni.

In many ways the society in which Mozart was living was experiencing similar upheavals and social stylistic turbulence to the US in the 1920s. In the States it was a period of social and institutional upheaval the like of which the country had never before experienced in its history.

The new society of the 1920s was characterized by vast changes in religion, political philosophy, folkways, moral precepts and uses of leisure time. […] This was a period of massive cultural conflict focusing on such matters as religion, marriage and moral standards, as well as issues of race, prohibition and immigration.

(Ronald Allen Goldberg, America in the Twenties (New York 2003), pp. 162–3)  

Women in particular looked to embrace new and revolutionary sexual freedoms, less restricting and alluring modes of dress as well as the right to drink and smoke in public places. The Charleston was an exuberant expression of feminine individuality and freedom, particularly indulged in by that period of sensation.

The 1920s ‘flapper’ could be defined as follows:

Two bare knees, two thinner stockings attached to garters, one shorter skirt, two lipsticks, three powder puffs, 132 cigarettes and a long holder, and three boyfriends, with eight flasks between them. She chewed gum – great wads of it – vigorously and incessantly. Her make-up was as crude as a clown’s.


(Maximillien de Lafayette, America in the Twenties. Photos and Reports, vol. 1 (New York 2011) p. 31.)

The pictures below speak volumes and the costuming seemed 'just the right choice' for Mozart staged in modern dress. What a relief to escape the ubiquitous clichéd military uniforms!

Roksana Wardenga

Krystian Krzeszowiak

Remigiusz Łukomski and Artur Janda

Artur Janda as Don Giovanni - a magnificent voice I have always admired! 

Artur Janda in the champagne aria from Don Giovanni

Artur Janda in the champagne aria from Don Giovanni

Artur Janda and Joanna Freszel

Damian Wilma

Dariusz Machej

Ewa Majcherczyk

Ewa Majcherczyk and Natalia Rubiś

The presenters Alicja Węgorzewska (Artistic Director) and Jerzy Snakowski

Artur Janda and Joanna Freszel in The Magic Flute - fabulously sung and so witty and sophisticated

Krystian Krzeszowiak

Natalia Rubiś

Remigiusz Łukomski and Artur Janda

Roksana Wardenga

Ruslana Koval

The Warsaw Chamber Opera Company

This was a highly enjoyable and entertaining evening that, if all too briefly, managed to lift the spirits in our benighted times!


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