ALEKSANDER BARDINI'S LIFE WITH MUSIC (Aleksandra Bardiniego zycie z muzyka)
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Music filled a great part of Aleksander Bardini's life. He said: 'even though I am a man of theatre, it is easier for me to live without theatre than without music' (1981). In his hometown, Lodz, he was taught to play the violin, and he played in a string quartet. In Warsaw, at Directors Department of the National Theatre Arts Institute, his views on music were further shaped by Leon Schiller. Bardini had an advantage over other students because, as Schiller himself, he knew how to read sheet music. Among other things, he assisted Schiller in directing the opera film Halka (1937). From 1950 to 1977, he directed thirteen operas: in Bytom (Tchaikovsky's The Queen of Spades), in Warsaw (Dionizetti's Don Pasquale, Bartók's Duke Bluebeard's Castle, Dallapiccola's Il prigioniero, Moniuszko's Straszny dwór - The Haunted Manor, Baird's Jutro - Tomorrow), in Wien (Moniuszko's Halka), in Zagreb and Cologne (Samson and Delilah by Saint-Saëns), and in Amsterdam (Shostakovich's Katerina Izmailova). His excellent Warsaw productions of Mussorgski's Boris Godunov (1960), Verdi's Othello (1969), Electra by R. Strauss (1971), and Mozart's Cosi fan tutte (1975) became legendary for the Polish opera theatre. He directed operas off and on, leaving opera and coming back, discouraged by the specific opera milieu, but he got involved in bringing to life the vision of modern music theatre realized at Warsaw Opera which was headed by Bohdan Wodiczko (1961-1965). The style of his opera productions was influenced by stage designers: Teresa Roszkowska, Tadeusz Kantor, and Andrzej Kreutz Majewski. It was far from realism. Bardini strived to portray emotional truth and relations between characters that had been defined by music. He tried to achieve harmony between sound movement and score, movement, colours and lighting on stage. Some scenes were directed with the exactitude of up to a single measure. He was famous for choreographing group scenes in which the chorus singers were arranged with respect to both sound and colour. In his home archive (at Warsaw University Library) there are director's copies of piano reductions of operas, with a number of detailed notes made by Bardini on such points as the singers' acting. Bardini considered music to be the highest value of opera theatre, and even though he found only few works that had the quality of musical and dramatic unity that he looked for, these were the ones he chose to direct; most of them were masterpieces, and he generally collaborated with outstanding conductors. He paid much attention to singers' training. As vice- and then president of the Music Theatre Committee of ITI, he promoted the idea of comprehensive theatre education; he visited workshops and seminars all across Europe. He was a champion of full professionalism. He advocated for training music directors, and such a project was realized in 1975 at State College for the Dramatic Arts in Warsaw where he taught. While directing dramatic plays he made full use of music, often collaborating with composer Tadeusz Baird. In their production of Mickiewicz's Dziady (Forefathers' Eve, 1955) music was played on as many as 29 occasions. He was a master of songs; using different popular songs he composed excellent musical productions that were performed by State College for the Dramatic Arts students and professional theatres and showed on television (1959-1971). This part of his artistic activity brought about the production of Kofta and Malecki's musical Oko (The Eye) and the excellent diploma performance of Cwiczenia z Szekspira (Exercises in Shakespeare), which was called the Polish Hair and presented in the US. In 1975-1979, Bardini enjoyed television fame starring in the cyclic programme Spotkania z profesorem Aleksandrem Bardinim (Meetings with Professor Aleksander Bardini). It was also then that he became one of the founders of the Wroclaw Review of Stage Songs and many times presided over the jury. Since 1958 he performed as a soloist at philharmonic concerts and at festivals as a reciter in pieces of the 20th-century classics and avant-garde, by such composers as Schönberg, Baird, Szeligowski, Wiechowicz, and Penderecki. His concert performances had a similar character to what he did as an actor at radio, which he enjoyed immensely. His last public performance took place at Philharmonic; he was the narrator in Honegger's oratorio King David.
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