World premiere: 7th October 2001, Warsaw Chamber Opera.
Ryszard Peryt – staging and direction
Ruben Silva – musical direction
Andrzej Sadkowski – stage design
Balthazar – Andrzej Klimczak
Voice-She-Death – Marta Boberska
Daniel – Leszek Swidzinski
Old Prisoner – Jerzy Mahler
Young Prisoner – Michal Kanclerski
Three Athletes – Bernard Pyrzyk, Jakub Burzynski, Krzysztof Kur
Three Poets – Zdzislaw Kodyjalik, Slawomir Jurczak, Zbigniew Debko
Sons of the Conquered Nation, Guards, Courtiers, Sins
Chamber Choir of the Warsaw Chamber Opera
Ruben Silva – conductor
Libretto: Ryszard Peryt after Stanislaw Wyspianski’s theater play “Daniel”
The theme of the opera is the subjugation of one nation by another, the tormented nation’s struggles and surrender and spiritual strength, which leads to ultimate victory. The theme was topical not only during Wyspianski’s lifetime (the Partitions of Poland among the three neighbouring powers), but it is also of relevance today, if only to mention Tibet, the Kurds, the Balkans, Chechnya, Palestine and many other hotbeds of tension in the world, in which religion has played a significant role.
In Wyspianski’s play, the ideas are presented in an extremely concise form, almost in slogans. There is not a single unnecessary word. Even the lyrical fragments are presented in a cool light, as it were, without any emotion. It is the reader whose emotions are affected. The poet remains strong, objective masculine.
The word is the source of the music. Wyspianski’s text gave me the impulse and energy to search for the sound which would enhance its importance or change it. I have employed in this piece both solutions in equal measure in order to overcome stereotypes.
The gist of my compositional process consisted in creating characters by means of sounds. I searched for gestures and motifs, with which I could grapple with the text. The choice of a musical idiom was of secondary importance. This is why in composing Balthazar I drew on my earlier musical experience, renouncing experiments and search for new artistic solutions. My search and experiments were directed at the characters, their expression, their peculiar features, their changing and complex nature. Wyspianski’s text provokes such experiments because it has many meanings. This creates a wealth of characters and thus opens up opportunities for the composer.