One of the most renowned operettas in the history, “The Gypsy Baron” was also considered his biggest masterpiece by Johannes Strauss II himself. It was intended as an opera, as unusual dramatism and deeply lyrical text of its base, Mór Jókai’s “Sáffi” novella, seemed to require that kind of study. This is why such long and elaborate work was devoted to every character, aria, and scene. In the letter to the librettist, the composer confided: “Before leaving for a long, lone walk in the forest, I have been learning by heart a few of your verses, and there I wrote down the melody on the stiff cuffs of my shirt.” The world premiere’s reception was a landslide victory. What attracted attention was the fact that it was the very first Vienna operetta with Hungarians and Gypsies as main characters. The world of “The Gypsy Baron” shimmers with Romani and Hungarian “milieu,” and in the synopsis realistic plots intertwine with fairytale-like pictures of the Gypsy camp. Everything, of course, to the tacts of a fiery csárdás and a waltz that sweeps over you.
The action takes place a day before the war. Its dangerous vibe is there in the air. Despite the light and humourous libretto, one can sense a chilling atmosphere, bound up with the rise of social divisions between the citizens and immigrants. Both worlds are going to be visibly juxtaposed in the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic’s production. The first will be grotesquely realistic, while the second will be magical and mystic, as inspired by the pictures of Kusturica or Petrović.
World premiere: 24 X 1885
Premiere: 13 IX 2019