The Lovers from the Cloister of Valldemosa
(Grand Theater, Łodź, 2008-10)
Thursday, May 26, 7:00 PM, Fulton Recital Hall
1010 E. 59th Street, Goodspeed Hall, 4th floor
RSVP to Valldemosa@uchicago.edu. Space is limited.
“The Lovers of the Valldemosa Monastery” was commissioned by the Grand Opera Theatre in Lodz and the Polish Ministry of culture for the Frederic Chopin Bicentennial Year 2010.
Composer Marta Ptaszynska, on the opera and its composition
Several years ago I found a fascinating theatre play, under the same title, written by Janusz Krasny Krasinski, a renowned Polish playwright. In the past, this drama received several theatrical productions. The Polish Television also made a movie version of the play starring the most outstanding Polish actors.
Janusz Krasny Krasinski’s play served as the material upon which I created a libretto for the opera.
The story depicts the voyage and the stay of Chopin, George Sand and her two children, Solange and Maurice, in Majorca during the winter of 1838. Their expectations of wonderful vacations together were very high, but the trip quickly became disappointing and disastrous for Chopin and George Sand.
The world premiere of the opera was held on December 18, 2010 (the first cast) and December 19, 2010 (the second cast) at the Grand Opera Theatre in Lodz. These two spectacular productions received very high acclaim from critics and audiences alike. There was an extensive interest of the Polish press to cover the production with numerous articles, interviews, and writings about the opera. Dorota Szwarcman, a music critic and a journalist of magazine “Polityka” mentioned the opera as one of the 10 most important musical events of the year 2010.
S Y N O P S I S O F T H E O P E R A
The opera opens with the arrival of Chopin, Sand, and her children in Palma, in the villa S’on Vent. Everyone is enchanted by this place, by its fantastic sunny weather, beautiful landscapes and architecture and, most of all, by the great hospitality of the native Majorcans including Señor Gomez, the owner of the villa S’on Vent. But, very soon, this enchanting environment changes into a cold, humid, and unpleasant place with extremely rainy weather and miserable living conditions. Chopin becomes seriously ill. The three Spanish doctors, instead of helping Chopin, spread the message that he has tuberculosis. At that time tuberculosis was considered as a very infectious and dangerous disease. Señor Gomez immediately gives his verdict and tells them to leave his villa. In total desperation, they all travel to the cloister at Valldemosa, a completely empty monastery with only two monks and a cook, Maria Antonia.
Act II takes place in the monastery Valldemosa and depicts Chopin’s great struggles to compose in these enormously difficult and miserable conditions on a completely out of tune and very old “junk” type piano. But, Pleyel did not forget about Chopin and sent him a “real” concert piano at Valldemosa. Chopin, continuously ill, is working very much even in this rainy and wintry weather, forgetting entirely about George and the world. But at this time, life in the cold, humid, and dark monastery takes its turn on Chopin. Sickly and entirely in despair, he decides to return to Paris in the middle of a tempestuous storm at sea.
The beautiful idyll turned to be a great disaster for Chopin and George Sand…