[special_paragraph]My Opera…[/special_paragraph]

[special_paragraph]Since my childhood instead of mooning I have chosen to fulfill my dreams. Once I dreamed of a career as a pianist I attended School of Music and I started learning to play the piano. However, I did not choose to be a virtuoso. Onegin in Tchaikovsky’s opera sings the following line: “Young girls often change the subject of their dreams”. I confirm that as it happened to me. When I started singing in a school choir I realized that I want to express myself with songs. Due to that, I started vocal studies in Academy of Music in Gdańsk which I graduated from in Warsaw.[/special_paragraph]

She sings wonderfully, plays in an interesting way and she is pretty- this concise description presents stage art of a great Polish singer of the young generation, Alicja Węgorzewska-Whiskerd. It is worth taking a closer look at this artist’s profile.

“It all began with the piano. As a five-year-old girl I started learning to play the piano. I might have continued it if it had not been for compulsory classes in school choir. At some point, it turned out that Węgorzewska had a voice. Since that time I have realized that vocal art is a way of expressing myself which is much closer to my extrovert character than playing the piano”- the artist mentions.

Let’s add: It was in Szczecin where she was born, in local Secondary School of Music. After matriculation she sang for three months in choir of Opera in Szczecin. Then she started vocal studies in Academy of Music in Gdansk ( in B. Skiba’s class). Finally, she graduated from Academy of Music in Warsaw in class of prof. M. Witkiewicz in 1993 (diploma with a very good grade). The next two years she was under prof. W. J. Śmietana’s vocal charge in Cracow, polished her vocal skills in master trainings of prof. R. Karczykowski (in Duszniki Zdrój and in Radziejowice), and also in Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Spain (under charge of C. Bergonzi, L. Nucci, B. Giaiotti, H. Zadek, H. Łazarski, G. Bumbra and G. Aragalla). This is a (written) opinion given about the young artist by an outstanding young Austrian singer and pedagogue prof. Hilde Zadek: “For a few months I had a great pleasure to cooperate with Mrs. Alicja De Rota (stage name used because of linguistic reasons). Apart from that, I had an opportunity to see her on the stage. She has not only a beautiful voice, but she is also highly musical and outstanding artistic phenomenon. I recommend her as a great talent”. (Vienna, 1999.10.05)

[special_paragraph]Her stage debut took place in 1996 in C. Monteverdi’sThe Coronation of Poppea” (it was on the stage of Grand Theater chamber in Warsaw in a students’ performance). She created two characters of Fortune and Pallade.[/special_paragraph]

In 1999 in the Spring she became involved in Wiener Kammeroper and played a role of Dardane in little known Ch. W. Gluck’s opera “Die Pilger von Mekka” (eighteen performances in total).

In Vienna she also sang in Neue Oper Wien in L. Bernstein’s opera “Trouble in Tahiti”. The premiere was on 30th September 1999, the artist sang one of the party in the so called jazz trio, all in all, there were eight performances in 1999 and at the beginning of 2000. Her vocal and artistic interpretation arouse a great enthusiasm and won reviewers’ recognition. Graceful interpretation and mobility of her voice met the expectations for a mezzo-soprano (Der Neue Merker, 1999), she delights with lightness of her performance and her voice full of glow (Der Tagespiegel, 2000). In the so called meantime, Alicja Węgorzewska won the international vocal contest in Rheinsberg. As a result, she played the role of Katte in S. Matthus’s opera “Kronprinz Friedrich”. The performance took place in Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg on 30th December in 1999 (for the opening of palace theater in Rheinsberg). It was conducted by Rolf Reuter and directed by Goetz Friedrich. A press opinion was firm: Katte is seductive. Alicja Węgorzewska-Whiskerd, the mezzo-soprano performs perfectly both because of her voice and acting (Berliner Morgenpost, 2000). In her role she is full of fire and fresh enthusiasm (Frankfurter Allgemeine, 2000). She is very persuasive in her role, charming with her full of glow and strong voice (Klassik Heute, 2000). She toured Germany with this opera (e.g. she sang in Bayreuth and Hannover during EXPO).

[special_paragraph]Alicja Węgorzewska has several opera parts in her repertoire. Apart from already mentioned title roles: Carmen, Dalia, Gluck’s Orpheus, Périchole, Leonora in Dionizetti’s “Favorite”, Charlotte in Massenet’s “Werther”, Olga in Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin”. The last two roles she sang in concert versions in Germany.[/special_paragraph]

Apart from that, she participated in many international festivals and opera galas including Festival of Early Music in Innsbruck (Festwochen den alten Musik), Donaufestwochen in Vienna, in the gala on the 750th anniversary of Breda city in Holland, concert on the birth of 6-billionth Earth citizen (in Theater an der Wien on 22nd December, 1999 with participation of F. Cossotto, G. Bumbry, F. Bonisolli, P. Dvorsky, P. Burchuladze). In 2003 she took part in prestigious concerts in Berlin (in Konzerthaus) and in Amsterdam in Concertgebouw. This year she has performed during Hoffmanowsky’s Festival in solemn concert in the Great Theater in Poznań as a part of Polish-German vocal confrontation.

A separate chapter, unfortunately still short, includes performances of this highly talented artist in the country. She has sung on the stage practically since graduation. What about opera stage? In 2002 she prepared “Carmen” for the Great Theater in Łódź. A year after that, she toured Germany and Holland with this opera. The staging did not receive positive write-ups but the reviewer from Gazeta Wyborcza noticed that “Alicja Węgorzewska-Whiskerd has interesting mezzo-soprano with a rich timbre (2002.12.27)”. Great success was brought by her interpretation of Britten’s “The Rape of Lucrece” in Krakow Opera in February 2004. Reviewers wrote “hypnotizing strident clearance, even amplitude of vibration, moving Alicja Węgorzewska-Whiskerd” (Gazeta Krakowska, 2004.02.11), “gifted with a beautiful, dark mezzo-soprano, focused and dramatic” (Gazeta Wyborcza, 2004.02.12); “She contributed by not only a beautiful, complete in sound voice but also extraordinary beauty and full understanding of an interpreted role: sensuality, passion, sweetness, sensitivity and pathos” (Muzyka 21, no 4/2004).

Specific vocal experience of the artist is recording of a soundtrack for Wiedźmin movie. She recalls that in the following way: “I was fascinated by what Grzegorz [Ciechowski] wrote. Unfortunately, the conditions in which we worked were quite discomfort. We had little time to record. However, the result was surprising and gave us a gold record. Regrettably, the death of Grzegorz spoilt our further music plans”.

[special_paragraph]Alicja Węgorzewska-Whiskerd is fully developing her talent. Undoubtedly, she is one of the most interesting modern Polish mezzo-soprano. And definitely, too rarely appears in Polish music theaters.[/special_paragraph]

Jacek Chodorowski


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