This year’s Wratislavia Cantans Festival is going to feature the eminent British conductor John Eliot Gardiner. Mr Gardiner will be followed by many other celebrated performers. The NFM and many other venues throughout Wrocław are going to host a number of early music ensembles, including the English Baroque Soloist, Il Giardino Armonico, Accademia Bizantina, Le Concert Spirituel and La Fenice. The 52nd edition of the festival will be held between 7 and 17 September in Wrocław and elsewhere in Lower Silesia.
Spotlight on opera
This year’s festival being more modest than two preceding editions, the Artistic Director and Italian Maestro Giovanni Antonini has nonetheless made his dream come true with two operas to be featured in the programme. The first opera, namely Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria by Claudio Monteverdi will be conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, who brings together the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the composer’s birth.
The second, that is La clemenza di Tito by W.A. Mozart, featuring soloists, an orchestra and the MusicAeterna Choir, will be staged at the Wrocław Opera House by Teodor Currentzis. It is no coincidence that this year’s festival motto is “Recitar cantando” (“Singing recitative), which makes a reference to the beginning of the 17th century and the rise of the opera, or the times of the Florentine Camerata and the founder of the opera Claudio Monteverdi.
Moniuszko worth exploring
Festival regulars are in for a surprise with Andrzej Kosendiak’s staging of Widma by Stanisław Moniuszko (at the NFM’s large concert hall), which combines lyrical scenes for soloists and a mixed choir and orchestra to the inspiration provided by Mickiewicz’s masterful Romantic drama Dziady. Rediscovered to decades ago, the cantata, which was a massive artistic and commercial success in its time, may rekindle modern audiences to Moniuszko. The Wrocław show will be directed by Paweł Passini, adn each role will be interpreted by both a singer and actor (12th September).
Passionate sacred music
The opera repertoire is just a foretaste of what the festival audience is for throughout the festival. Ottavio Dantone and his Accademia Bizantina are going to perform J.S. Bach’s monumental Kunst der Fuge (8th September) for little instrumental ensemble. Monteverdi’s celebrated multipart masterpiece Vespro della Beata Vergine will be performed by La Fenice under Jean Tubery (9th September). The Festival’s Artistic Director Giovanni Antonini and his Il Giardino Armonico are going to present an intriguing programme called La morte della ragione (The Death of Reason), featuring a selection of works from early music masters such as Gesualdo da Venosa and Tarquinio Merula, who had the courage to trespass a number of boundaries in their explorations to express powerful emotions and transform music into something more than just a mathematical formula (10th September). Le Concert Spirituel, a French ensemble who already presented a French programme in Wrocław ten years ago (featuring Charpentier) are returning with a selection of Italian polyphonic works by Palestrina, Frescobaldi and Monteverdi (15th September).
Marzena Diakun is expected to conduct a concert featuring works by the eminent French master Olivier Messiaen (Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum) and Grażyna Pstrokońska-Nawratil, a lecturer at Wrocław’s Academy of Music and Messiaen’s student (Uru Anna on 11th September). Messiaen’s repertoire will be revisited yet again by a Polish string quartet called Kwartet na koniec świata (9th September).
Admission and festival programme
Detailed programme is available at the festival’s website. Tickets range from 50–200 PLN.