About the festival

Opera Rara Festival is a presentation over four centuries, and shows this field of art in its fullest form. The event does not give up on the presentation of what has previously been the brand of the festival and was the heart of the series – the greatest works of opera, reconstructed in accordance with the spirit of the age by the most eminent representatives of historical performance.

New formula

Starting in 2017, the most prestigious Krakow stages will host semi-operas that will show the true faces of musical theatre, with a symbolically marked set design and costumes and more pronounced acting, as well as full stage versions, the theatricality and professional production of which will captivate the audiences. The Opera Rara Festival is the answer to the voices of the public and the fulfilment of the stylistic gap that leaves the audiences hungering for more.

Opera Rara series has transformed into a three-week festival, which is held during the carnival. It is a time historically associated with the highest number of opera premieres, as well as a period full of balls, play and an atmosphere of celebration. The Festival is primarily an extension of the programme with vocal recitals, performances originating not only from the Baroque, but also rooted in the 20th century, semi-operas and half-stage versions of performances.

Detachment from everyday life, fun, creative expression, participation and giving a voice to the echoes of the bygone noble times, when opera was a fashionable and pleasant way to spend time, and an important element of social and cultural life – that is the important heritage that the Opera Rara Festival will refer to, building the opera brand as a centre of social life, the source of aesthetic elation and a pretext to build a community based on beauty and the unity of experiences. Opera Rara as a way of life, a festival that affects all the senses and meets the needs of the audiences. A stunning cross-section of nearly four centuries, a multitude of moods, refined music in excellent interpretations, admiration and elation – with this daring move, Krakow is strengthening its brand as the capital of classical music. The carnival in the capital of Małopolska will be what it should be associated with – sophisticated beauty and pure joy.

Opera Rara launched in 2009 as a series dedicated to presenting ambitious and shining triumphs of opera performances. The central part of the programme were reconstructions of ancient operas from the canon of the 17th and 18th centuries, performed by leading European interpreters. The most prominent opera singers have performed since then on Krakow stages, including Maria Grazia Schiavo, Roberta Invernizzi and Philippe Jarrousky.

Between 2009 and 2016 Filip Berkowicz served as the Artistic Director of the Opera Rara cycle. Since 2017 this role is performed by Jan Tomasz Adamus, the Director of Capella Cracoviensis. The managing and executive director is Izabela Helbin, the director of the Krakow Festival Office. The project is coordinated by Matylda Myczka (CC), Joanna Broniec (Krakow Festival Office)

The festival is organised by the City of Krakow, the Krakow Festival Office and Capella Cracoviensis, with the support of the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre.

Krakowskie Biuro Festiwalowe

The largest festivals in Krakow, spectacular events for the audiences of hundreds of thousands, various musical, theatrical, fine arts, film and literary events famous in Poland and in Europe – all of them are organised by the Krakow Festival Office, one of the most active public institutions in Poland. The Krakow Festival Office is the direct continuator of activities and missions of the Krakow 2000 Festival Office, established in 1997 for the organisation of a series of events emphasising the role of Krakow as the European City of Culture. It was on the initiative of the Krakow Festival Office that such festivals as Sacrum Profanum and Misteria Paschalia, as well as the Krakow Film Music Festival were created.

The organisational efficiency, the ability to build a festival brand with an international dimension from scratch and the entire spectrum of the Office’s activities in various fields determine the strength and prestige of the institution.

The natural consequence of such an approach was the extension of purely organisational activities of the KBF to measures for the development of creative industries, cultural and business tourism, the meetings industry and leisure industries. Activities to popularise literature, such as Krakow City of Literature and Literary Małopolska, the activities of the Krakow Film Commission, the Regional Film Fund and the operations of the ICE Kraków Congress Centre, as well as the management of the large tourist information structure of InfoKraków, show important directions of development of the Krakow Festival Office initiated in recent years. It is worth stressing that these activities are not carried out in isolation from the environment: on the contrary, many initiatives are developed in consultation with the relevant milieus, and the consensus thus reached allows for further partnership cooperation. This, in turn, means that the Krakow Festival Office is perceived as the initiator of a network where municipal and central institutions, NGOs and commercial companies can contact each other and communicate on the level of culture – knowledge – innovation – business.

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Capella Cracoviensis

Semper in altum. This is the motto that has been the driving force behind Capella Cracoviensis for several years, making it the most dynamically developing Polish ensemble specialising in stylish early music performances. Thanks to the consistent support of the City of Krakow, CC is able to carry out ambitious projects in an uncompromising manner and at the highest artistic level, collaborating with outstanding musicians of similar sensibilities and comparable courage. Artists who regularly perform with CC include Vincent Dumestre (Le Poème Harmonique), Fabio Bonizzoni (La Risonanza), Alessandro Moccia (Orchestre des Champs-Élysées), Andrew Parrott, Paul Goodwin and Ensemble Oltremontano, as well as guest appearances by Accademia Bizantina, Fretwork, Nachtmusique, Paul McCreesh, Giuliano Carmignola and Christophe Rousset (Les Talens Lyriques). Apart from concert activities, CC is also exploring the territories of Baroque and Classical opera, successfully producing their stage versions in Poland: Handel’s Amadigi, Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni, or Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice.

In addition to being an instrumental ensemble, Capella Cracoviensis is also a vocal ensemble. Not only technically efficient, but also flexible, capable of performing repertoire ranging from Gesuald’s breakneck Mannerist madrigals to avant-garde 20th-century compositions. The CC choir is used, among others, by the excellent guests of the Misteria Paschalia Festival and the Opera Rara series, such as Fabio Biondi, Marc Minkowski, Le Poème Harmonique and the La Venexiana ensemble under Claude Cavina.

CC hosts the most prominent European festivals: Haydn Festspiele Brühl, Bachfest Leipzig, SWR Festspiele and Händel Festspiele Halle. They regularly give concerts outside Poland: in Vienna’s Konzerthaus, at Versailles, in Brussels, Ghent, Lviv and Kyiv.

Since November 2008, Jan Tomasz Adamus, an outstanding organist, harpsichordist, conductor and animator of musical life, has been the director and artistic director of CC. He shaped the ensemble’s artistic personality in collaboration with many excellent singers and in contact with the achievements of the most important European centres of arts – in painting, sculpture, architecture and philosophy of art, seeing a constant counterpoint to all musical activities. His assumption of this function at the invitation of the City of Krakow was one of the most famous transfers in the world of Polish culture in recent years.

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