Józef Koffler "Matrimonio con variazioni"
performances: 20 , 22 , 24 February 2012 , 7.00 p.m., Warsaw Chamber Opera Theatre
MATRIMONIO CON VARIAZIONI
A play for dancers, two singers, actor and chorus
Libretto Joanna Kulmowa
Instrumentation Edward Pałłasz
Director and choreographer Romana Agnel
Musical director Przemysław Fiugajski
Stage designer Marlena Skoneczko
Eumenida – Kamila Cholewińska, Anna Dubnicka
Lepard – Tomasz Rak, Robert Szpręgiel
Boss – Jerzy Mahler
Balet Dworski „Cracovia Danza”
Prima Vista Quartet
upright piano – Dagmara Dudzińska, Ewa Pelwecka
positive – Krzysztof Marosek
Józef Koffler: Matrimonio con variazioni at the
Warsaw Chamber Opera 2009 AD
Our interest in Józef Koffler’s only work for the stage, dating from 1932, began
when we received a copy of the piano reduction of this work prepared by
Professor Maciej Goł±b – a musicologist who has been successfully working to
bring the composer’s life and work to wider attention.
The singularly high quality of Józef Koffler’s composition induced us to take it
up, although we only had the piano reduction – and with a German text at that.
In order that the work might appear on stage, we had to restore the original
text or write a new one – in Polish, of course – and also produce a suitable
instrumentation. After much discussion with Edward Pałłasz, who received the
work from Professor Goł±b, we came to the conclusion that it should be an
instrumentation which resulted from certain indications contained in the
reduction and above all conforming to features of musical works from the end of
the 1920s written for theatres in Western Europe by composers close to Koffler.
A group of single string instruments, coloured with wind instruments, piano,
harmonium, percussion, guitar and banjo – something along those lines. That’s
what we opted for, and a few months later Edward Pałłasz presented a complete
score, from which we produced the orchestral material.
A separate matter – of no less importance – was to create a text which would
meet the demands of a musical work for the stage, with the character of a
beautiful piece of entertain-ment, written in 12-note technique.
I turned to the person best qualified, the exceptionally gifted Joanna Kulmowa,
a great artist of the theatre. After taking the time to familiarise herself with
the composition, she announced that it would be a completely new and…
And so we have before us a work from the beginning of the 1930s, when people
were still making merry, just after the global economic crisis, with not a
inkling of what was soon to occur.
We present a work written for an actor, two soloists (soprano and baritone),
small four-part choir (12 singers), ballet and chamber orchestral ensemble,
referring to the end of the twenties and the beginning of the thirties, taking
account of the interesting phenomena in Polish theatre and cabaret from those
years, as well as the splendid painting, sculpture and applied art of that
The work is performed by artists of the Warsaw Chamber Opera together with the
dance troupe Cracovia Danza, with which we have been working for a number of
On 5 June 2005, as part of the festival of festivals An Ode to Europe, we
presented the Polish premiere of Viktor Ullmann’s work Der Kaiser von
Atlantis, written in 1943 in the Theresien-stadt ghetto. In my introductory
note to that production, I mentioned our plans to produce this stage work by
Józef Koffler, who met with a similar fate as Viktor Ullmann. I now write these
words in the conviction of having met that obligation towards our outstanding