Krzysztof Knittel was honored with the 2017 City of Gdańsk Theatre Award for his opera Sąd Ostateczny [The Final Judgment]. Since 2008, this Award has been given to authors of the best theatrical events in the city. This year’s Gala Award Ceremony was held in Gdańsk on March 19, 2018.
Premiered on November 8, 2017 at Gdańsk’s Opera Bałtycka, Knittel’s two-act opera depicts the legendary and turbulent fate of a famous triptych by Hans Memling (1430-1494), a painter active in Germany and the Netherlands. His art was rediscovered in the Victorian era and has been widely admired since then. Memling’s The Last Judgement was painted around 1470 and a few years later sold to a merchant in Bruges, a middleman who tried shipping it to the Medicis in Florence. The shipment, however, was seized by a privateer from Gdańsk (then Danzig) and taken there. Protests by the Medicis and papal interventions did not succeed and the painting remained in Gdańsk. Further claims on it were made by Tsar Peter the Great but he wasn’t able to pry it away from the Danzig Town Council.
During Napoleon’s occupation of the city in 1807, The Last Judgement was requisitioned and sent to the Louvre only to be transferred to Berlin after Napoleon’s downfall in 1815. It resided there until the waning months of World War II, when it was taken for safekeeping in the German countryside. Found by Soviet soldiers, it was then sent to the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad as a war trophy. Finally, in 1956, Memling’s triptych was returned to the National Museum of Gdańsk, where it can be seen today.