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Warsaw | Ludomir Różycki's "Casanova"


On 10 and 11 January 2020, the Warsaw Philharmonic will present Ludomir Różycki's opera Casanova in the concert performance as part of the "Written in Free Poland" project.

The 1922/23 musical season in Warsaw was cramped with major developments and events in the arts: there was the first performance of Karol Szymanowski’s Violin Concerto No. 1, while Grzegorz Fitelberg premiered Stravinsky’s The Firebird and Petrushka, and concert goers had their first chance to listen to leadings works of the modernists, including Scriabin’s Prometheus, Schönberg’s Chamber Symphony No. 1 and Paul Hindemith’s music, until then unknown in the Polish capital. Conservative critics who could not even tolerate Mahler’s symphonies, tried to outdo one another in showering insults on the new music and its champions. Therefore, the ear-catching melodies of Ludomir Różycki’ opera Casanova, performed at the end of the season, debuted at the right time and found a public that perfectly matched its taste. Caton’s waltz To dawny mój znajomy from the third act enjoyed unparalleled popularity and is still sung by successive generations of sopranos. However, with the exception of this fragment the opera remains practically unknown. After the war, Casanova was not staged in Warsaw even once, while in the 1990s it was only briefly included in the repertoire of the Roma Musical Theatre and the Grand Theatre of Łódź.

The premiere of the opera at the Grand Theatre in May 1923 under the musical direction of Artur Rodziński was one of the highlights of Różycki’s career. So why exactly did Casanova go out of fashion and why is no album recording of the piece available? By today’s standards, the subject chosen by the composer is rather outmoded and it would probably be difficult to find producers interested in staging the performance. Its commercialised musical idiom, its explicit references to Puccini’s oeuvre, among others, and its balance between an opera and an operetta do not make things easier. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that Casanova was written with great élan. Różycki portrayed scenes from the life of the Italian adventurer and lady-killer Giacomo Casanova in a very colourful and spectacular way, offering the audience an opera of immense charm.

More information at: http://www.filharmonia.pl/koncerty-i-bilety/repertuar/koncert-symfoniczny185