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Warsaw. D'ARC – opera in the museum for the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising

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Joan, Joanna, Giovanna. Three women living in different times and different countries are the protagonists of the opera “D'ARC”, which will be performed on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising. “They are united by a goal greater than life and the courage to sacrifice themselves for others,” the creators announce.

The theatrical premiere on August 1 is a permanent element of the program of the subsequent anniversaries of the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising. Over the last two decades, the museum has staged both modest monodramasWhat Dramas produced on a grand scale happening simultaneously on several stages. There were academic performances based on war memories, but also hipster musical or a play about a zombie invasion loosely related to the 1944 uprising.

This year, the museum workers outdid themselves – they decided to present the opera, and at that, they went outside the building. About a hundred people have been working on the implementation for several months.

– These celebrations are exceptional, because they are the last round celebrations in which so many insurgents will take part. We want them to be exceptional in the human dimension, in the dimension of the meeting of insurgents with people for whom they are an inspiration, role models – said Jan Ołdakowski, director of the Warsaw Uprising Museum, during Wednesday's press conference. – That is why we decided to invite a world-famous artist, who will create the greatest spectacle in the history of the museum – he added.

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Dobrawa Czocher played a fragment of music from the operaWarsaw Uprising Museum

Three heroines: Joan, Joanna, Giovanna

This creator is Krystian Lada, a director who has worked with opera stages in Belgium, Holland, Switzerland and Germany. “D'ARC” is an opera with three main characters with the same name (in three language versions). Joan, played by actress Agnieszka Grochowska, is a photographer from Paris, the daughter of Polish emigrants. Joanna is (played by Dobrawa Czocher) a Warsaw cellist and civilian participant in the uprising, and Giovanna (soprano Gabriela Legun) is a French national heroine, Joan of Arc. In the only male role – the Angel of History – the director cast baritone Szymon Komasa.

The heroines live in different places and times, they only meet in dreams. – They share the same story – devotion to an idea larger than life – noted Krystian Lada. – The first, most contemporary to us, Joan lives in Paris, she is a photo editor in a fashionable women's magazine. One day she receives information about her grandmother's death. She receives a box with plates on which her grandmother Joan recorded the unheroic everyday life of the Warsaw Uprising. She begins to fantasize about her grandmother, an insurgent, and meets her in dreams when she is a student in the cello class and dreams of a career. She is a civilian, she has no weapon, she tries to survive the situation she has to live in in a good way. Sometimes she dreams of a weapon appearing in her hand, so that she can be like Joan of Arc, who decides to liberate the besieged city of Orleans – said the director during a meeting with journalists.

Walking performance, with headphones on

Each of the three protagonists has her own stage in the space around the museum. The office building of a nearby bank pretends to be the editorial office where Joan works (Paris 2024). An old tenement house on Grzybowska Street houses Joanna's apartment (Warsaw 1944). And the set for Giovanna is the Freedom Park (Rouen 1429). How will the audience find their way in all this? Everyone will get headphones; there is no traditional audience planned.

– It will be a so-called walking spectacle, the audience will walk from station to station and during this journey will put together the puzzle of history – explained the director. For Lada, working in an unusual space is not the first time. His spectacles have already taken place in production halls, former hospitals or city squares.

The libretto was written by Anka Herbut and Łukasz Barys. Their texts are based on motifs from the diaries of artists who participated in the Warsaw Uprising and the story of Joan of Arc. The title refers to her name, of course, but – as Lada explained – it also refers to the English word dark, meaning darkness.

Here a composition by an insurgent, there a quote from Verdi

The musical layer is a collage, because there were several composers. Classical pieces are interwoven with the latest music and songs from the uprising. – I wanted to break the stereotype that an opera is usually composed by one person and by complete coincidence this person is a dead man from Italy or Germany – argued Krystian Lada sarcastically.

Polish composers of the young generation – Dobrawa Czocher, Teoniki Rożynek, Wojciech Błażejczyk and Rafał Ryterski – composed new pieces for chamber orchestra and soloists. In addition, the audience will also hear compositions by the artist and insurgent Roman Padlewski (including his last major work Stabat Mater) and the creator of minimalist music Julius Eastman – his “Revelation of Joan of Arc” will be performed by an ensemble of 10 cellists aged 10 to 70. There will also be a scene-quote from the opera “Joan of Arc” by Giuseppe Verdi.

– I knew that only a team that takes on unusual tasks, such as Hashtag Ensemble, would take on the challenge. Then it turned out that more groups specializing in a given sentence are needed, so a vocal group (Match Match Ensemble – ed.) and 10 cellists appeared – said Lilianna Krych, the project's music director and conductor.

Dobrawa Czocher's role in the project is exceptional. – Krystian suggested that I not only compose a piece, but also play Joanna, the cellist. For me, this has a double meaning – not only did I create her using sounds, but I also have a chance to present her with my body, which is completely new to me – Czocher said.

The performance is produced in cooperation with the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera. The premiere is scheduled for August 1, traditionally at midnight. Then, from August 3 to 6, there will be four more performances. (ticket sales on the museum website). From October 1, “D'ARC” will be available on the streaming platform operavision.eu.

Creators of the opera “D'ARC”Warsaw Uprising Museum

Author:Piotr Bakalarski

Main image source: Warsaw Uprising Museum

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