Besides his monumental ethnographic research, Oskar Kolberg also composed a number of vocal works, including an opera: Król Pasterzy [King of Shepherds]. It was shown in Kraków on June 3, 2014, 155 years after its premiere. This one-act work to a libretto by the romantic poet Teofil Lenartowicz depicts an idyllic setting in the rural countryside of the Kujawy Region, and celebrates a tradition of selecting a king of shepherds by the peasant folk.
Originally staged at Warsaw’s Grand Theatre in 1859, the opera ran for only seven performances. While the public received the work with great enthusiasm, the critics found some faults with the extensive orchestral writing. The score calls for an ensemble of 23 performers, a chorus of 12 and five soloists and it exists in only one manuscript copy. Stanisław Moniuszko, who served as director of Warsaw Opera for many years, knew of Kolberg’s opera and added—in his own handwriting on the title page of the score—“recommended for performance.”
For the Kraków performance this manuscript was copied and corrected and will be publically available through the Oskar Kolberg Institute in Poznań. The Kraków performance included soloists Aleksanda Buczek, Jerzy Butryna, Piotr Gawron-Jedlikowski, Tomasz Maleszewski, Jadwiga Niebielska, and Jacek Jaskuła. They were assisted by the Octava Ensemble, the Orkiestra Projektowa, the Vox Angeli Ensemble, and the Integrated School Dance Ensemble, Krakowiak. Led by maestro Zygmunt Magiera the opera was broadcast by Polish Radio 2 in order to encourage interest in this work among musicians elsewhere. The concert was organized by the Kraków Chamber Choir, Institute of Music and Dance, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and the City of Kraków. More information about the event is available at: www.krolpasterzy.pl or krakow.gazeta.pl