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Opening tonight: the world’s newest opera house

It’s in…. Poland. Bialystok, to be precise. And it’s a dream come true for a north-eastern city, near the Belarus border, whose chief cultural attraction until now has been its puppet theatre.

The opening date was chosen because it’s the anniversary (147th) of the premiere of the Polish national opera, Moniuszko’s Haunted Manor.

Here’s a Google-translatable article on tonight’s opening. And here’s where you go in.


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  1. Wrong picture – that’s Dungeness A.

    • You sure? It’s identified as Bialystok.

      • Pawel Kotla says:

        It surely is Białystok. I had a pleasure to conduct a concert with its excellent resident orchestra last Summer in the amphitheatre which is part of the new building and am coming back to conduct a symphony concert inside on 9 November this year – can’t wait!

        The place makes really quite an impression. It is enormous. BTW it may look like just lots of concrete at the moment but it is only because it is supposed to be covered in vegetation in the future. Here is the presentation of the final look:

        Regarding the history of the area. There are two sides to it. One is a very tragic one of Holocaust but also of hopeless struggle of the Polish underground against the Nazis and the Soviets. But there is also the other one – of wonderful multiculturalism which goes back centuries. This is the place which was populated not only by Poles and Jews, but also by German, Russian and Tatar minorities. One of few places in Europe where Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Muslims and Orthodox Christians would peaceful co-exist for hundreds of years. It is precisely why it was such a vulnerable target for some of the worst genocides of the last century.

        The good news is – it is exciting to see that this history of rich multiculturalism is now being rediscovered and cherished. Moreover – despite of its relatively small size and being on the outskirts of EU the city is trying to reach out even beyond the borders of European Union. I was very much impressed that the new opera is already publishing its schedules not only in Polish but also in Lithuanian and Belarussian.

      • I don’t think it was intended to be taken literally.

  2. Whatever it’s a picture of, it’s really ugly.

  3. Bialystok not only now has an opera house, it has had a state symphony orchestra since 1974. The population of Bialystok is 294,399. How many American cities that size have a fulltime opera house and a 52 week season orchestra? The difference is Europe’s system of public funding for the arts.

    As an aside, until WWII the population of the city was 63% Jewish. After the war the community no longer existed.

    • Yes, I attended a concert performance of Szymanowski’s opera Hagith by that orchestra in Bialystok, and it was a great occasion, I was impressed.

      Also, I visited a small local museum about the history of the area going back to prehistoric times, and I don’t think I have ever seen that subject curated so imaginatively. It was a real discovery, and a true delight.

      The general point is that I was impressed by the richness of the culture of Bialystok, and it makes perfect sense to me that a new opera house should now be part of it. It was a fascinating place, and was taken very good care of. (and I don’t find the building ugly, I think a couple of these comments are uninformed and gratuitously ungracious – this should be cause for celebration, as Norman suggests)

      However, much as I agree with you, William, that some European governments have distinctly superior systems of support for the arts than the one that currently exists in the USA, I’d be careful about including Poland in that group. A friend of mine was artistic director of the Teatr Śląski in Katowice in the mid 2000s, and before he could even hit his stride he had to contend with the sudden announcement that his government grant would be cut by 90%. I’ve heard similar stories from museum and visual art professionals in Warsaw and Gdansk.

  4. Gee…. looking at the pictures of the Opera House makes me wonder at whatever happened to creative architecture?

  5. Brilliant.

  6. A week before the official opening of opera organized an open day. You can see here spherical (360) panoramas.

  7. No you’re not alone Graf Nugent….I’m surprised NL allowed that to be printed.

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