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RODERIC DUNNETT congratulates Opera Omnibus
for its recent 'Straszny Dwór'


To catch rare opera revivals, generally head out of London. Moniuszko's Straszny Dwór (The Haunted Manor) -- given its political overtones, virtually Poland's national opera -- was last staged in the British Isles at the Irish autumn festival of Wexford, three seasons ago, with a largely Polish cast including Jacek Janiszewski (an impressive bass and Kurt Moll pupil who was winner of the l998 Stanislaw Moniuszko International Opera Competition in Warsaw).

Jacek Janiszewski (left, in black) as Stefan and Dariusz Stachura (right, in red) as Zbigniew with Elizabeth Woods as Czesnikowa in the l999 Wexford Festival Opera production of Moniuszko's 'Straszny Dwór'. Photo: Derek Speirs

It's a loaded piece, which comes across as a mere romp, trite and frivolous, unless proper homage is paid to its national subtext. And in this respect Opera Omnibus's recent staging in Haslemere, Surrey -- a delightfully unlikely venue -- came up trumps.

The company has several such rare offerings to its credit : a staging of Donizetti's Linda di Chamonix in l999; the Weber-Mahler Die Drei Pintos the year before; and Herold's Zampa in l997. Lakmé, Martha, Count Ory, Luisa Miller (as early as l987) and La Sonnambula have all made an appearance. This is their first Moniuszko, and one hopes they may try another. To judge by the present production, Opera Omnibus is thriving.

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Copyright © 26 April 2001 Roderic Dunnett, Zagreb, Croatia




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