Nabucco, Silesia style
by TESS CREBBIN
Silesia is now a part of Poland but it used to be German before the Second World War. Some older Germans now living here are ex-Sileseans who still longingly think of their former homeland that they left during, or after, the war. So Verdi's opera Nabucco was a good choice for the National Opera Company of Silesia's tour of Germany -- with its famous chorus of the Hebrew slaves, sung by an excellent Silesian opera choir, it touched a nerve for the audience of Munich's Philharmonic Venue in the Gasteig concert hall on 2 January 2005.
The Silesian State Opera of Bytom has historical roots: the first opera première in Poland after the war took place in Silesia on 14 June 1945. This date also marked the opening of the new and rebuilt opera house. Its founder was the famous artist Adam Didur and in October 1945, the town of Bytom was chosen as the official locale of the opera company that initially became known as 'Kattowice Opera in Bytom'. After it became a government-owned company on 1 September 1949, it was renamed as 'Silesian State Opera Bytom'. Under local law, only the very best opera houses with the best artists in the country were chosen to become state property. Following Adam Didur's sudden death on 7 January 1946, the tenor Stefan Belina-Skupiewski became its new director and led the opera to winning a reputation as one of the foremost locations for the discovery and training of outstanding vocal talents. Today, Tadeuz Serafin is director and chief conductor of the opera house and its current repertoire spans some 33 operas. It is the first Polish opera house to be invited to the United States to perform, and has also toured widely across Europe, as well as in Canada. So, needless to say, expectations were high when the company came to Munich with Verdi's Nabucco.
Tadeusz Lesniczak as Zaccharias in the Silesia State Opera Bytom performance of Verdi's 'Nabucco'
One singer in particular stole the show with his flashy stage presence, excellent voice and outstanding dramatic qualities: emerging as the central focal point from very early on was the character of Zaccharias, sung by Tadeusz Lesniczak who combines impeccable dramatic acting talent with an exceptional and wide-ranged voice. His interesting stage costume had a distinct run-down look that gave him the appearance of a ragged royal whose dignity shone through as an inspirational testimonial to human endurance. Very nice also the performance of Barbara Krzekotowska as Abigaille: a big woman with a big voice, she impressed with technically challenging vocal acrobatics, managed to alienate her character from any sympathetic vibes through her wonderful acting qualities that portrayed Abigaille as a nasty presence right from the start, only to credibly turn herself into a wretched and humble woman in the final act.
Copyright © 30 January 2005
Tess Crebbin, Germany