Moniuszko: Halka / Winters, Konieczny, Beczala, Kewalek, Borowicz, ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien
At Theater an der Wien Stanislaw Moniuszko’s Polish national opera Halka is performed by a superb cast including Corinne Winters (“devotedly”) , Piotr Beczala (“vocally outstanding”) and Tomasz Konieczny (“his acting is piercing”) (Der Standard). With libretto by young Polish poet Wlodzimierz Wolski, the opera is widely considered to be one of Moniuszko’s greatest operas, and in fact was described by noted musicologist Carl Dalhaus as “The Polish national opera.” The Polish leading team, above all stage director Mariusz Trelinski, puts the plot into a supercooled crime aesthetic. The ORF Radio Symphonie-Orchester Wien under the baton of Lukasz Borowicz plays with perceptible delight. “A gripping opera evening” (Wiener Zeitung).
Luxury casting here outrivals previously recorded versions. With her bright, sumptuous soprano, Winters makes a powerful Halka, less obvious victim, more troubled woman struggling at the bottom of the social heap. Her acting skills are on full display as she takes us on one woman’s harrowing journey. Konieczny’s gritty baritone is perfect for Janusz, a love rat, but a guilty one from the start where he finds himself haunted by a vision of Halka’s bloated corpse. Jontek is usually played as a bit of a sympathetic best friend but here Beczala creates a far more interesting and conflicted character seething with thwarted passion and class resentment. His glorious tenor with ringing top notes is perfectly suited to what is some of the opera’s finest music, including the hit aria The Fir Trees Sigh on Mountain Peaks.
Moniusko specialist Łukasz Borowicz paces it all splendidly with fine playing by the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester and sturdy singing from the Arnold Schoenberg Chor. Tiziano Mancini’s video edit helps with both mood and dramatic pace making this good-looking video as fine a way as any to become acquainted with Poland’s national opera.
Catalog Number: 805708
Label: Unitel Edition