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Pocket Opera 2010:  Halka (Review:  San Jose Mercury News)


By Stanisław Moniuszko (1819 Minsk -1872 Warsaw)



The other masterpiece by the composer of last season's buoyant The Haunted Manor (Pocket Opera), similar in its luscious melody rich with the flavor of Poland, but far different in effect. A heartrending tale of misplaced love, somewhat akin to the ballet Giselle. Were it in French or Italian it would no doubt be universally known and loved as one of the great operas of the 19th century.

Heroine of what is reputedly Poland's most cherished opera, Halka is beautiful, bright, passionate and irresistible. Yet in the eyes of Gianni, a handsome, dashing young landowner, she has two fatal flaws: she is poor, and she is a peasant. Nonetheless they have a fervent romance that leads to the birth of a child. But promises of marriage seem to become increasingly vague and elusive. Suddenly Gianni disappears. Halka, deeply in love, cannot believe that he has abandoned her. Accompanied by a faithful friend who has been in love with her since childhood, she goes out searching for her missing lover and succeeds in finding him on the very day that his engagement to the daughter of a wealthy noblemen is being announced. The worst is yet to come, whereby Halka joins the magnificently tragic ranks that include Norma, Donna Elvira, Gilda, Jenufa, and Cio Cio San -- unforgettable women who fell in love with the wrong man and in so doing inspired some of the most hauntingly beautiful, heartrending music ever written.

A richly melodic score, steeped in Polish folk balladry and dance rhythms. It will be heard for the first time ever in a brand new English translation. Incidentally, you may recall that Moniuszko was also the composer of THE HAUNTED MANOR, which last season's audiences found so exhilarating.



Mayor’s Reception, San FranciscoKraków Sister Cities Celebration at City Hall, 10/21/2009



Pocket Opera 2009:  The Haunted Manor


The Haunted Manor (Straszny Dwór) By Stanisław Moniuszko (1819 Minsk -1872 Warsaw)



Rehearsal space for the cast of The Haunted Manor was partially subsidized by The Polish Club.  The Haunted Manor was presented by Pocket Opera, The National Endowment for the Arts, and the Polish Arts and Culture Foundation.  Polish community participants included: Patrycja Poluchowicz, Dalyte Kodzis and Łowiczanie Polish Folk Ensemble. Costumes and props were loaned by the Polish Arts and Culture Foundation and Łowiczanie Polish Folk Ensemble.


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San Francisco's Pocket Opera presented the premiere of Donald Pippin's new translation of Moniuszko's The Haunted Manor.  Pippin's distinctive and elegant English renderings of well-known and rarely performed operas are considered among the finest in the world.

“It is hard to think of a more prodigiously tuneful opera after Mozart than The Haunted Manor wrote one critic. Greatly beloved in Poland where it is often performed, and where it is considered the quintessential Polish opera, comparable to The Bartered Bride, the quintessential Czech opera, yet it is practically unknown elsewhere.  Pocket Opera, with the help of a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, comes to the rescue!


Donald Pippin, Founder of Pocket Opera, and Philip Lowery, Stage Director of The Haunted Manor, were interviewed by Zbigniew Stanczyk, “Studio Poland,” Sunday, April 19th on San Francisco’s KUSF (90.3 FM).


BREAKING NEWS:  Halka to be produced by Pocket Opera (libretto by Donald Pippin); Check Pocket Opera’s website


Haunted Manor Rehearsal At The Polish Club


Łowiczanie Polish Folk Ensemble


Łowiczanie Polish Folk Ensemble:  The Polish Club has donated weekly rehearsal space to Łowiczanie for over 30 years and houses the ensemble’s invaluable costume collection.