Poles conquer Masada
June 18, 2015

Michal Znaniecki, photo by Teresa Grotowska

Polish artists including an outstanding Polish opera director Michal Znaniecki triumphed at the Masada Opera Festival held June 4-13 at the foot of the ancient fortress of Masada in southern Israel.

During a ten-day-long event featuring more than 3,000 artists and technical staff as well as a 64 meter-wide, open-air stage close to the Dead Sea several thousand people could watch two spectacular international productions: Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca” conducted by Daniel Oren and Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” conducted by James Judd.

“Carmina Burana”, which closed the jubilee, 30th festival in Masada, was directed by 46-year-old Znaniecki. A theater director, born in Warsaw had its debut at La Scala in Milan, Italy at the age of 24. In the last 20 years, he has directed some 180 opera performances all over the world including Poland, France, Belgium, Italy, and Argentina.

“I have invited nearly 40 Polish artists to work with me in “Carmina Burana,” Znaniecki says. They include dancers, costume designer Magdalena Dabrowska, and choreographers Grzegorz Pantak i Elzbieta Szlufik-Pantak.

Hanna Munitz General Director of the Israeli Opera, has officially confirmed that next year Znaniecki will be entrusted with directing both great opera productions of the Masada Opera Festival.


Izrael. “Carmina Burana” na pustyni w Masadzie

Dzisiaj odbędzie się premiera megawidowiska operowego “Carmina Burana” w reżyserii Michała Znanieckiego i z gościnnym udziałem Kieleckiego Teatru Tańca. Spektakl powstał w ramach Masada Opera Festival organizowanego przez The Israeli Opera.

Jest to piąta edycja zapoczątkowanego w 2010 roku festiwalu, w ubiegłych latach zrealizowano “Nabucco”, “Aidę”, “Carmen” i w roku ubiegłym – “Traviatę” w reżyserii Znanieckiego. Festiwal przyciąga każdorazowo tysiące fanów operowych, którzy w niepowtarzalnej scenerii historycznej pustyni, mają wyjątkową możliwość, by obcować ze sztuką operową w wykonaniu największych gwiazd scen operowych. Jak co roku, widowisko operowe zobaczy kilkadziesiąt tysięcy widzów, turystów z całego świata oraz zaproszonych gości. Megawidowiska teatralne są szczególnie bliską formą Michałowi Znanieckiemu. Tego rodzaju spektakle od lat z powodzeniem realizuje w wielu krajach. “Carmina Burana” powstaje w ramach wieloletniego kontraktu jaki artysta podpisał z The Israeli Opera. Po ubiegłorocznych premierach “Balu maskowego” i “Traviaty” w jego inscenizacji, artysta powróci w tym roku jeszcze w grudniu, by wyreżyserować “Trubadura” na deskach opery w Tel Avivie. ***  READ MORE…

Nazi-era work Carmina Burana debuts at Israel’s Masada Festival

MASADA, Israel, June 4 (Reuters) – Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, composed in the Nazi era, will be showcased at an Israeli opera festival against the backdrop of a towering desert plateau that stands as a symbol of Jewish resistance and sacrifice.

Orff’s cantata comprising 24 poems, mostly in Latin, is one of the most popular works in classical music, particularly the opening bars of the first movement “O Fortuna”. Orff, born in Bavaria in 1895, thrived under the Nazis, who adored his rousing choruses and pagan themes.

But unlike Richard Wagner, Adolf Hitler’s favourite composer and a virulent anti-Semite whose music remains unofficially banned in Israel, Carl Orff’s work has been performed publicly in the country for decades.

It will now be performed for the first time at the annual Opera Festival at Masada, on the shores of the Dead Sea, first on Friday and then on June 12. “I don’t think that in the (death) camps in Auschwitz and Treblinka they played Carl Orff, but they played Wagner before (people) went to the gas chambers,” Daniel Oren, music director of the Israeli Opera that is staging the festival, told Reuters.

Michael Ajzenstadt, the company’s artistic administrator, said “the art was the message” when it came to controversial composers.

“If we are going to look into the lives and the beliefs and doctrines of every artist around the world, I’m sure we won’t be able to perform, at least here in Israel, a lot of music,” Ajzenstadt said.

“I think in the 21st century, there should not be censorship, definitely not of artists, especially those who lived in Germany and tried to remain alive. Some did it because it is what they felt, some believed (in Nazi ideology), others didn’t,” he said.

The site of Masada strikes a special historic chord with Israelis.

It was at Masada in 73 AD that hundreds of Jewish rebels who rose up against the Roman Empire committed mass suicide rather than fall as slaves to the occupiers, according to the writings of the Jewish Roman historian Josephus.

The Carmina Burana production on Masada’s enormous open-air stage has been designed by Polish director Michal Znaniecki, with the Kielce Dance Theatre providing colorful movement on brightly lit, innovative sets.

This year’s Masada festival will also include four performances of Puccini’s opera Tosca. (Writing by Ori Lewis, Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Gareth Jones) READ MORE…