by Daniel Hathaway
To mark the 100th anniversary of Polish independence, The Cleveland Opera and Cleveland Ballet will present Stanislaw Moniuszko’s 1865 opera, Straszny Dwór (“The Haunted Manor”), on Saturday, June 16 at 7:30 pm at the Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square.
“It was popular at its debut in the mid-19th century, but Poland was under partition between Russia, Prussia, and Austria, so there’s a patriotic undercurrent,” soprano, executive artistic director — and native Pole — Dorota Sobieska said in a telephone conversation. “It’s a Polish opera. We sing and I cry. It’s sentimental. It’s where my heart is.”
“The music is wonderful,” conductor Grzegorz Nowak said in a separate phone call. “It was all composed by Moniuszko, but it has a folk quality to it. The Mazur [Mazurka] has even been texted so it can be sung by a choir.”
Nowak, also Polish, is principal associate conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as music director of The Grand National Opera (Teatr Wielki) in Warsaw. He studied at Tanglewood, earned his doctorate at Eastman, then served on the faculty of Bowling Green State University. He’s quite familiar with Moniuszko’s piece, having first conducted it in Warsaw in what he describes as “quite a scandalous production.” [Read more…]