Over the last couple of years, more and more polish names have appeared
on the seattle music scene. This may be especially visible in the next
season when three opera superstars will be singing here: Ewa Podleś
(contralto), Małgorzata Walewska (mezzo-soprano) and Mariusz Kwiecień
(baritone). Ewa Podleś and Mariusz Kwiecień will come back to Seattle
in the glory of their previous successes; Małgorzata Walewska will make
her debut as Judith in Bela Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle (the Polish
Studies Endowment Committee already invites you to her performance and a
reception on February 28 and March 1, 2009). But let us return to the
present season of 2007/2008, a highlight of which has been the
performance of Mariusz Kwiecień in Bellini’s I Puritani. An extremely
talented and popular artist, he was unable to leave McCaw hall with the
other singers due to the number fans still waiting at the doors of his
dressing room. Fortunately for his admirers, Mr. Kwiecień accepted an
invitation to the fundraising event organized by the Polish Studies
Endowment Committee. On May 10 nearly 50 supporters of the polish
studies endowment attended a production of I Puritani at Seattle opera
and then met the artist at a private reception the following day. Still
amazed by Mariusz Kwiecień’s opera performance, they have now been
captivated by his youthful and engaging personality.
Mariusz Kwiecień (center) with supporters of the Polish Studies
Endowment at the fundraising event
Ewa Poraj-Kuczewska Considering all your successes and leading roles
at the grand opera houses, to what do we owe our luck of seeing you
again in Seattle?
Mariusz Kwiecień First of all – when I came here some years ago, I was
at once enchanted with the young, polished, culturally dynamic city.
Then – Speight Jenkins, a man with an authentic passion for the opera, a
man who gave all his heart, all his life and probably all his money to
the opera, who has created and directed a fantastic opera house for the
last 25 years. And one more thing which brought me back was the warm
welcome that I received from the polish and american audiences. It is
also the reason why my hand does not quiver when I sign contracts with
EPK You have been awarded the title of Seattle Opera’s artist of the
year for your performance of Don Giovanni, which seems to have been one
of your favorites for years…
MK Don Giovanni is such a great experience – I have a feeling that
Mozart composed this music somehow with me in mind. I simply adore this
music, love to sing this piece by Mozart and hope I am not too bad in it
since I have received recognition for this role. I’ll tell you
something else – I am not like Don Giovanni in real life. Maybe being a
person completely different from this scenic character makes it so
appealing to me – I can enact something which will never ever happen in
my personal life.
EPK In the next year we will see Małgorzata Walewska in Seattle. Have
you had a chance to work with her?
MK Yes, of course, we are also very close friends. Not long ago I
invited Małgosia to Kraków, and together we did a program called
Spotkanie z Artystą at Słowacki Theatre. In this program we sang,
danced, told stores and goofed around. It was a lot of fun. When
Małgosia arrives I hope you will be able to invite and interview her – I
pale in comparison with her. Małorzata Walewska is such an amazing
talent in so many areas: she is an extraordinary artist, great comic,
and a great conversationalist, not to mention her singing – but the
singing you can get from her recordings. She is a wonderful human being
with a huge heart, so please take this rare opportunity to appreciate
the wonder that she is.
EPK You are not only a singer but also a painter, poet, photographer,
you are designing furniture, and so on, and so on…
MK I think that
everyone gets several talents in his life. For example, as a singer I
can also draw something, dance or write, and somehow it flows together.
An artist is someone who is brave, not afraid to present himself, so you
do not fear to draw a line with a pencil or – even if you have never
sung – come out and sing in public. An artist has a predisposition,
desire and calling to manifest himself to the world.
EPK You are only 35 years old and as an artist you have already
accomplished so much. Do you lack for anything?
MK No, I really do not… I indeed have achieved more than I have
ever dreamed of. I knew that my career would develop but did not expect
it to gather such momentum. Today I only want to continue getting those
fantastic contracts and keep playing interesting opera roles.
EPK In the coming season you will get a new role…
MK I will play King Roger in Karol Szymanowski’s opera which will be
staged in Paris (Opera National de Paris, June 18 – July 2, 2009) by a
famous polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski. It is my first King Roger
– we will see how it works. No rehearsals yet but it is already truly
exciting that I will be performing in a polish opera abroad. I know that
a lot of people love Halka and Straszny Dwór, but in my opinion only
Król Roger deserves a world premiere.
EPK I wish you good luck in this production, as well as your other
performances. See you next year, since you are coming back to Seattle,
am I correct?
MK Yes, in May I will return as count Almaviva in the Marriage of
Figaro – I will be looking forward to meeting the same fabulous polish
EPK We will be here, I promise.
Mariusz Kwiecień in the Marriage of Figaro at the Metropolitan Opera