"The Merry Widow" Filharmonia Narodowa

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"The Merry Widow"
Łukasz Borowicz, photo: Ksawery Zamoyski

Every year, the Warsaw Philharmonic invites listeners to spend New Year’s Eve in the company of music. This year, the orchestra led by Łukasz Borowicz, alongside outstanding soloists, will be performing in full one of the most celebrated operettas in the history of the genre. Ferenc Lehar’s The Merry Widow was first staged in Vienna towards the end of 1905. The history of the work’s composition is so colourful and dramatic that it could be used as the plot for another operetta. The name of the composer – whose music contributed to the extraordinary success of The Merry Widow, performed in its original production almost 500 times – ultimately eclipsed the names of the librettists and the initiators of the project. Lehar was the second composer asked to write the music for this operetta, and towards the end of his work, he was on the point of being dismissed. Until the very last minute, doubts remained as to whether the work would prove a success; the budget and number of rehearsals were reduced to a minimum, and the costs of preparing the costumes and sets were covered partly by the performers themselves. In addition, there was a whiff of diplomatic scandal in the air, and the librettists decided to cover up the source of their not entirely original – as it turned out – idea.

Bartłomiej Gembicki


* Opera Academy at Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera in Warsaw

Warsaw Philharmonic Patron of the Year – PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna – warmly welcomes you to join us in this concert

Bartosz Michałowski

Bartosz Michałowski graduated with distinction in choral conducting from Poznań Music Academy. In 1998–2005, he was assistant to Stefan Stuligrosz and conductor of the ‘Poznań Nightingales’ Boys’ and Men’s Choir, with which he performed extensively in Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, Russia and Japan.

He won first prize in the 9th Polish National Choral Conductors Competition in Poznań. In 2015, he won the Orphée d‘Or of the Académie du Disque Lyrique, and was nominated for one of the Polish record industry’s Fryderyk awards. In 2020, he received a Fryderyk for a recording of Szymanowski’s opera Hagith (with the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir). He also received two nominations for the International Classical Music Awards 2022. Michałowski is the founder and artistic director of Poznań Chamber Choir, one of the leading Polish ensembles of its kind, and of the ‘Opus 966’ Polish Composition Competition. He also devised the ‘Pisz muzykę – to proste!’ (‘Write music – it’s easy!’) composing workshops for children and coproduced the ‘Obrazogranie’ (‘Picture playing’) project at the National Museum in Poznań.

As Director of the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir, he has conducted Szymanowski’s Kurpian Songs, masses by Kodály and Gretchaninov, Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Requiem, and oratorios: Paulus by Mendelssohn, Messiah by Handel, Christ on the Mount of Olives by Beethoven and Litanies of Ostra Brama by Moniuszko. He prepared the ensemble for the first ever performance of Anton Rubinstein’s sacred opera Moses (conducted by Michail Jurowski) and for a performance and the first ever recording of Moniuszko’s opera The Pariah in Italian, and has also helped prepare vocal-instrumental concerts of the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, collaborating with such eminent conductors as Andrzej Boreyko, Ton Koopman, König, Matthew Halls, Martin Haselböck, Jacek Kaspszyk and Krzysztof Penderecki.

He has participated in renowned festivals including the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival and Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival, and has collaborated regularly with renowned institutions and orchestras. He has numerous first performances to his credit.

In addition to gaining experience as a conductor, Bartosz Michałowski has spent many years working on enhancing his skills and knowledge in the field of voice production, completing masterclasses with Poppy Holden (Great Britain), Christian Elsner (Germany) and Jozef Frakstein (Poland). He holds a PhD and is a lecturer at the Chopin University of Music.