Antonio Vivaldi / Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

“Stabat Mater”

stage mystery


Proj. by Piotr Kunce
It is an original combination of music by Antonio Vivaldi and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, with the elements of acting, stage movement composition, original costumes and decorations. The performance is delightful because of its sacred music - expressive and beautiful in its simplicity, full of poetry and emotions, characteristic for the Neapolitan opera of 18 c. Jacek Chodorowski


Direction – Wacław Jankowski
Musical direction – Paweł Szczepański
Composition of stage movement – Jadwiga Leśniak-Jankowska
Costumes – Joanna Jaśko-Sroka

Countertenor – Łukasz Dulewicz
Soprano – Sylwia Olszyńska
Testes Passionis – Urszula Sadowińska-Pardyak, Ewelina Grzebinoga

The Krakow Chamber Opera Orchestra:
Violin I – Aleksandra Gawlik
Violin II – Barbara Szpakiewicz
Viola – Magdalena Kizior
Cello – Karolina Kalinowska
Double bass – Wojciech Chlanda
Harpsichord – Piotr Windak


Premiere, March 5, 2005, The Bernardines Church, Krakow

fot. Paweł Zechenter


March 19, 2005, Krakow Chamber Opera

fot. Paweł Zechenter


June 20, 2005, The Bernardines Church, Kraków


fot. Renata Kwiatek


March 12, 2016, Church of the Conversion of St. Paul on Stradom in Krakow

fot. Paweł Zechenter


Sunday, 1st August 2021

Church of the Conversion of St. Paul on Stradom in Cracow

performance dedicated to the Warsaw Insurgents

fot. Dawid Kostek


I left the church of St Florian, which was full to the brim, before the musical night was over. My next stop was the Bernardine church, where I listened to and watched a mystery play, ‘Stabat Mater’ by Krakow Chamber Opera.

The artistic interests of Jadwiga Leśniak-Jankowska and Wacław Jankowski, the founders of theatre Scene El-Jot, have been drawn to ‘music-enhanced’ theatre (or ‘theatre-enhanced’ music) for a long time. Let us just mention ‘Pastorele staropolskie’ (The Old Polish Pastorals), ‘Cantigas de Santa Maria’ and ‘Don Pasquale’ – an interesting staging of Donizetti from last year. Not the time has come to stage ‘Stabat Mater’ by Vivaldi and Pergolesi.

The music of Baroque masters sounded exceptionally beautiful in the Baroque interior, mainly thanks to two singers: soprano Katarzyna Jagiełło and countertenor Evgeni Iacenko (third-year student at Krakow Music Academy, tutored by prof. Śmietana). The quality and beautiful timbre of perfectly coordinated voices were admirable, but so were the sensitivity and musical awareness of both young artists. A small, six-piece musical ensemble did a great job accompanying them. Conductor Piotr Sułkowski built up the dramatic tensions of both pieces very accurately – music under his direction was lively, full of emotions and prayerful wistfulness at the same time. The reference to the medieval mystery plays by Wacław Jankowski, subtle choreography by Jadwiga Leśniak-Jankowska and the costumes by Joanna Jaśko-Sroka highlighted the quality and overall mood of the performed music.


Anna Woźniakowska

Dziennik Polski

March 7th, 2005


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Stabat Mater is one of the medieval prayer sequences – it was created in 13th c. and is ascribed either to Franciscan friar Jacopone da Todi or St Benedict. Several musical masterpieces have been based on its melody, which is derived from Gregorian chant.

Among those works are ‘Stabat Mater’ by Antonio Vivaldi and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. Both pieces were created in the first half of the 18th c. (since 1727 the prayer sequence has become an official part of the liturgy by the decree of Church authorities). Krakow Chamber Opera has decided to make both versions a part of their repertoire, and the premiere took place in the church of Bernardine monks. Those compositions require a particularly modest musical apparatus: a trimmed-down chamber ensemble (a violin sextet) and two soloists – altos in Vivaldi’s version, alto and soprano in Pergolesi’s version. Therefore the only parts those pieces consist of are arias and duets (Pergolesi). Music and lyrics combine brilliantly in the whole cycle – they never lose the prayerful character, full of pensiveness and contemplation. The producers decided to reach for very young performers, and they were not disappointed. Both singers, Katarzyna Jagiełło (soprano) and Evgeni Iacenko (countertenor), did not fail to deliver, despite their little experience onstage. They possess well-balanced, properly projected voices with a pleasant timbre. Their undisputed asset is the joy with which they sing – it conceals the stage-fright and sensitizes the interpretation. It also allows the listener to partake in an authentic musicianship.

Director Wacław Jankowski was clearly drawing on the medieval paschal mystery plays – he introduced two mute female characters who accompanied the protagonists during their vocal contributions.

Subtle costumes created by Joanna Jaśko-Sroka, wonderful composition of the stage movement by Jadwiga Leśniak-Jankowska, as well as a perfect balance of light and shade in the beautiful church interior – all those elements contributed to the overall reception of the spectacle. The string ensemble conducted by Piotr Sułkowski created a charming atmosphere, subtly conveying the intricacies of beautiful music. The above discussed premiere took place on 5th March 2005.

Jacek Chodorowski

Only after this review has been written have we received the shocking news about the tragic death of Evgeni Iacenko on 26th May 2005. The promising young artist was only 20 years old. He was a student of the Krakow Music Academy, tutored by prof. W. J. Śmietana. His immense talent combined with great learning and singing zeal were exceptionally promising. It is a great loss for vocalism, most notably the Polish and Ukrainian musical scenes. (J.Ch.)


‘TRUBADUR’ – Journal of the Polish Association of Opera Enthusiasts

Issue 2 (35), April-June 2005


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Great art and… a prayer

‘Stabat Mater’

‘We are deeply honoured and moved by the fact that we can present the mystery play ‘Stabat Mater’ in Niepołomice church and the chapel of St Charles Borromeo. Both those places were held in great esteem by Pope John Paul II, who made frequent pilgrimages in honour of his patron when he was still the archbishop of Krakow.’

Managing and artistic director of Krakow Chamber Opera, Wacław Jankowski, introduced the Saturday spectacle with those exact words.

‘We staged another performance on the 2nd of April this year. When the tragic news concerning the last moments of Polish Pope on this earthly plain reached us, we decided not to cancel the play. We hope that the musical prayer of Our Lady of Sorrows was a fitting expression of our spiritual connection with our beloved compatriot.’ – he added.

Krakow Chamber Opera has inaugurated the cycle of ‘Opera meetings at the castle’ with this artistic event It was possible due to the cooperation agreement signed recently between the Opera and Niepołomice municipality.

Expressive and beautiful in its simplicity, the religious music of Antonio Vivaldi and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi were combined with the stage movement, elements of acting, costumes and scenography. Together, they brought to life the amazing world of the 18th c. Neapolitan opera, full of lyricism and emotionality. ‘Stabat Mater’ by Krakow Chamber Opera charms the listener not only with its musical perfection, but also with remarkably poetic acting of four artists, full of refined scenes. The addition of two silent females, who accompanied the pair of soloists (soprano Anna Stolarczyk and countertenor Michał Wajda-Chłopicki, both brilliant singers), was an excellent choice.

The audience in Niepołomice temple had no doubt they were witnessing a great artistic event. The artists conducted by Tomasz Chmiel were awarded with a standing ovation.

The parson of Niepołomice parish, Stanisław Mika, thanked the creative team behind the mystery play and its performers for participating in great art and great prayer. The congregation finished the evening with a prayer for the canonization of John Paul II.

‘Stabat Mater’ performed by Krakow Chamber Opera: Anna Stolarczyk – soprano; Michał Wajda-Chłopicki – countertenor; Martyna Malcharek, Oksana Pryjmak – testes passionis; musical ensemble of Krakow Chamber Opera; orchestration, conducting – Tomasz Chmiel; directing – Wacław Jankowski; scenography and costumes – Joanna Jaśko-Sroka; choreography and stage movement – Jadwiga Leśniak-Jankowska.


Wanda Ryszkiewicz

Dziennik Polski

November 7th, 2005


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Minimal form, maximal content – ‘Stabat Mater’ by Krakow Chamber Opera

Mystery play ‘Stabat Mater’, staged by Krakow Chamber Opera, proves that sometimes the best way to emphasize the beauty of a work of art is by opting for harmony and simplicity. The spectacle was created by combining two baroque compositions: the ‘Stabat Mater’ sequences by Antonio Vivaldi and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. The renaissance-like aesthetics of sublime ascetism which characterise this staging result in a magnificent whole, which establishes an elevated mood, yet is full of Lenten pensiveness.

The engaging, clear song of young soloists – Łukasz Dulewicz (countertenor) and Sylwia Olszyńska (soprano) – is undoubtedly the most distinctive part of the spectacle and its outright quality. Music performed by a modest, six-person ensemble, was not just a background, but an excellent addition to their vocals. Blend of these clear sounds, without needless pomp, allows to focus the attention on the rich emotional layer of the composition. Thanks to this quality musicians allow you to feel affection and melancholy at the same time, while leaving some space for existential reflection.

Obviously, the visuals of the spectacle cannot go unnoticed. They draw on Gothic and Baroque paintings, but are enriched with some contemporary elements. Three women in flowing robes seem like they have just stepped out of a 15th c. painting ‘The Three Marys at the Tomb’ by Hubert van Eyck. On the other hand, the lighting, which brings out the details and each character out of the darkness, creates a baroque chiaroscuro, just like the one in Rembrandt’s paintings. This sculpture quality of the stage visuals, its depth, arouses curiosity and introduces a mysterious atmosphere. Another important element is the static quality – the choreography comes down to a few smooth movements, so that the most meaningful gestures are emphasized.

The final product is a synesthetic blend of music and visuals. It brings together different epochs and showcases how timeless and universal are the paintings of the Old Masters. The gentle violins and the moving song, accompanied by the unusual visuals make us feel like we are a part of a great artistic event.

Ligia Kazusek


March 16th, 2016


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After Donizetti’s ‘Don Pasquale’, Krakow Chamber Opera invites us for their second premiere staging. This time it is a mystery play which combines two most beautiful interpretations  of  ‘Stabat Mater’ – compositions of Antonio Vivaldi and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi.

The spectacle has been directed by Wacłąw Jankowski, costumes were created by Joana Jaśko-Sroka, while the choreography has been prepared by Jadwiga Leśniak-Jankowska. The musical ensemble will be conducted by Piotr Sułkowski, and the soloists are: Evgeni Iacenko, Michał Wajda-Chłopicki, Katarzyna Jagiełło, Joanna Kowalska, Anna Stolarczyk, Martyna Malcharek and Oksana Pryjmak. The premiere takes place on Saturday at 8 PM, in the church of Bernardine monks.

‘We have decided to perform one of the most beautiful works composed for the ‘Stabat Mater’ sequence. The mood of those two compositions fascinated us’  – told Paweł Orski, deputy programme director of Krakow Chamber Opera.

‘We do not want to draw on any particular period in this mystery play. All we want is to tell a story, which happened and is happening again each year in all of us’ – says Jadwiga Leśniak-Jankowska.

‘In this mystery play we make references to the Gothic and Baroque painting, as well as the contemporary elements’ – added Wacław Jankowski, director and manager of Krakow Chamber Opera.

The musical ensemble – quintet and basso continuo  – will play contemporary instruments. The vocal parts are going to be performed by young artists from all over Poland – they will be chosen from a group of 30 singers who took part in a competition.

‘Stabat Mater’ by Vivaldi, one of his greatest works, has only been discovered in the Turin National Library in the 1930s. It has been performed for the first time in Siena in 1939 and immediately gained itself a group of avid admirers. As Alfredo Casella, the discoverer of Vivaldi’s composition, has said, people appreciated the marvellous excellence of this music.

‘Stabat Mater’ by Pergolesi is a manifestation of an emotional style in religious music, which was the reason behind numerous assaults on this composition by conservative listeners. It is an immensely popular work ever since its creation in 18th c. The best proof of its popularity is the enthusiasm of Hiller – composer, conductor and contemporary of Haydn – who said: ‘The one who remains cold and unmoved in the face of this music does not deserve to be called human’.


Agnieszka Malatyńska-Stankiewicz

Dziennik Polski, issue 52

Thursday, March 3rd 2005

Issue 2 (35), April-June 2005