Józef Koffler "Matrimonio con variazioni"

performances: 20 , 22 , 24 February 2012 , 7.00 p.m., Warsaw Chamber Opera Theatre

Józef Koffler

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”



Instrumental ensemble
Prima Vista Quartet
upright piano – Dagmara Dudzińska, Ewa Pelwecka
positive – Krzysztof Marosek

Przemysław Fiugajski


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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… revolutionary libretto.

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 period.

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 years.

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 composer.

Stefan Sutkowski


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