The Lodz Opera House
The city and the region had to wait for the creation of the first real Lodz Opera House since 1954. The institution, officially created on 1 July by a decision of the Board of the People’s Council, was the result of a combination of passion and commitment of Professor Władysław Raczkowski, a pianist, organist, choirmaster and conductor, who at the very beginning organized rehearsals in his own apartment. Sabina Nowicka, Vice Director of the Theatre of the Polish Army at Leon Schiller’s times, became the Chief Executive Director of the Opera House; Mieczysław Drobner, musicologist, composer and pedagogue, academic at the State Musical College in Łódź (Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Muzyczna), became the Music Director. The Lodz Opera House did not have its permanent headquarters, but passion and commitment of the management and artists made it possible to stage great performances in dramatic theatres in Łódź.
It was launched on 18 October 1954 by a premiere of Stanisław Moniuszko’s the Haunted Mannor (Straszny dwór), under the baton of Professor Raczkowski. The performance was directed by Jerzy Merunowicz, one of the members of the initial team of the New Theatre which staged the performances of the Opera House in addition to Jaracza theatre. The newly created team consisted of young singers who in time contributed to the renown of the Lodz Opera House.
The famous and esteemed music critic Józef Kański writes about the beginnings of the Opera House: The performances staged in the initial phase of the operation of the Lodz Opera House did not practically have any weak points! It was simply due to the fact that they were created, both when it comes to music and performance, under the direction of authentic and distinguished professionals. Therefore, the scenes and the characters’ actions always naturally eventuated from the music and the libretto, which can be hardly said of the existing large and even renowned opera houses. And if you add to this the youthful energy, undoubted talent and commitment of the team!
At the Lodz Opera House artists such as e.g. Delfina Ambroziak, Wera Kuźmińska, Zofia Rudnicka, Halina Romanowska, Stanisław Heimberger, Tadeusz Kopacki, Antoni Majak, Andrzej Saciuk, Romuald Spychalski, who then became Polish stars, played their greatest roles, directed e.g. by Kazimierz Dejmek, Jerzy Merunowicz, Emil Chaberski, Ewa Bonacka, Antoni Majak.
An important chapter in the history of the Lodz Opera House is the exceptional choreographic work of the “father” of the Lodz ballet – Feliks Parnell. Famous performances of (Parnell’s Prades) Parady Parnella which he created and participated in did not only impress the public and critics, but also constituted a milestone in the development of Polish choreography, in terms of modern ballet show and understanding of choreographic language, as a means of autonomous artistic expression and equal scenic narration tool. Feliks Parnell’s performances allowed to such stars of Polish ballet to shine: Maria Łapińska, Janina Niesobska, Krystyna Zalewska, Eugeniusz Kowalczyk, Włodzimierz Traczewski, Stefan Piątkowski, Bogdan Jankowski.
During 11 years of its operation the Lodz Opera House organized 26 opera premieres and 10 ballet premieres. The last one was the premiere of Daniel Auber’s FRA DIAVOLO – 28 August 1965.
The next chapter of the history of the opera house in Łódź covers the period from 19 January 1967, the period of operation of the Grand Theatre in Łódź, i.e. the artists of the Lodz Opera House in a new building at Pl. Dąbrowskiego, on their own, modern, second largest stage in Poland.