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Diva For Rent

 

“This project is typically commercial from the beginning to the end. And at the same time, it is quite a huge challenge because I want to sell something associated with boredom, high art and something unavailable to people”- says Jerzy Snakowski, author, scriptwriter and opera lover associated with Treble City.

Diva for Rent

 

“ ‘Diva for Rent’ was created because of my reluctance to opera concerts during which aria is sung out of the context. Some singer enters the stage, pretends to be feeling something, sings in a language nobody understands and runs away. After listening to such concerts for hundred times I asked: Why this singer can’t tell us something? Let her do that!. And all has begun.”

 

Diva for Rent

In such a way the idea for a monodrama has appeared, the idea in which an opera singer uncovers how the opera is prepared. She sings the whole arias, their parts or single phrases, comments on them, describes her life on the stage and outside it. She persuades that one can like or even love the opera. Krystyna Janda liked the idea and agreed to show it in her Warsaw Polonia Theater (although the rights still belong to the producers). “Diva…” is directed by Jerzy Bończak associated with a light repertoire, stage design was created by valued abroad Rafał Olbiński and choreography prepared by Emil Wesołowski (choreographer of Chopinart). However, the most important is diva who was played by Alicja Węgorzewska-Whiskerd.

 

“To find an opera singer that will manage to deal with a monodrama is not an easy thing to do as “Diva for Rent” had long spoken parts. The singer had to be credible. I wanted this monodrama to contain a real opera not something opera-like. In Baltic Opera I met Alicja. I managed to arouse interest with this project in her and we started looking for a producer. It turned out that it was difficult to find such a person so Alicja decided to produce this show”- Snakowski describes.

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I show my sense of humour and distance to the profession of an opera singer. I explain why the singer is often a poor actress, why mezzo-soprano acts male characters and why librettos are usually about nothing.

 

 

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Reviews

“ The opera monodrama is difficult and surprising as line acrobatics”

 

On Polonia stage Alicja Węgorzewska goes out of her way by uncovering the mysteries of the opera art. And she does that with witty humour.

 

This is a performance for our times which takes into account economy. In “Diva for Rent” the world of opera has been confined. Instead of plushy curtains with gilts in Polonia we have got red sheet with strings. The lack of orchestra must be compensated by pianist and violinist. There is no choir and Alicja Węgorzewska plays also male roles but there is a dancer, Jarosław Derybowski, who becomes her partner on the stage. Decoration designed by Rafał Olbiński is made of a few pieces of furniture patterned by drawings on his famous opera posters.

The performance may be even shortened. As production company (its owner is performer) emphasizes that “Diva for Rent” can be performed during galas and parties. It can be freely shortened because monodrama structure is similar to a building of segments.

However, “Diva for Rent” is not slipshod work but intelligent entertainment. It is because of Jerzy Snakowski’s text. While listening to diva’s stories about opera behind the curtains and prima donna’s life people often laugh. Those who rarely visit opera like jokes about elderly singers and fat tenors. Others who are music lovers enjoys author’s witty jokes in opera convention. Sometimes one can get the impression that she talks to us in her own words. Obviously, she has to sing. During one hour she has to be Amneris, Azucena, Dalila, Tosca, Cherubine, or even Alferd from “La traviata”. Finally, she plays four acts of “Carmen” at a fast rate.

Every of these roles should be exaggerated a little, which is demanded by Jerzy Bończak, the director, and a performance convention. Węgorzewska teeters on the edge of joke and professional opera singing but we do not demand from her vocal finesse and great precision. She is like a tightrope walker playing the violin who applies for a job while a viewer watching his skyward acrobatics speaks mockingly “He is not like Yehudi Menuhin”.

Let’s not be picky and enjoy “Diva for Rent” because that is the reason why it was created. Especially because we rarely have a chance to take advantage of intelligent entertainment.

Jacek Marczyński

From: Rzeczpospolita

 

The singer falls off the pedestal

“Have you switched off your mobile phones”? -asks Alicja Węgrzewska wearing a spectacular dress. “So please switch them on. In a minute you will have a unique opportunity to record a new melody for your sound gallery”.

That is an unusual beginning of “Diva for Rent” described as opera monodrama. One has to admit that the name is quite intimidating. Firstly, it suggests that there will be only one actress on the stage. Additionally, it misgives that the evening will turn out to be a never ending aria, which luckily does not happen. “Diva for Rent” does not intimidate. On the contrary, the seriously sounding name appears to be an amusing funny one woman show in opera. An artist accompanied by violinist, accompanist, and dancer talks with the audience describing common “sins” of the opera and stereotypical accusations against this genre. As an example she presents parts of opera arias.

Text of “Diva for Rent” was written by Jerzy Snakowski (a famous music theater lover, ex-vice director of Baltic Opera) and dedicated to Alicja Węgorzewska. One can feel that a monologue comes from heart. The singer without pathos but with distance, irony and humour consistently laughs at opera drawbacks: poor acting, incomprehensible texts and women playing men. The title diva makes nasty remarks about this genre, which make the audience become fond of her. When she reminisces about her first visit in the opera she compares this event to a group therapy of singers and a conductor. Then, we can quickly recall our own first opera experience.

It can be easily reviewed that Alicja Węgorzewska acted in monodrama an interesting role. But how was it? “Two months on a run-down stage from the dawn to sunset and they write: ‘she acted an interesting role’- Diva’s irony. Apart from that, playing the role seems not be the most important. More important is shortening the distance and having closer relationship between the (often perceived as overweening, unapproachable) the opera singer and the audience. It is hard to find the dividing line between the role and real Alicja Węgorzewska. A protagonist and the actress seem to constitute one role. The singer is true in times of nostalgia. When she describes that every day she checks if she has not lost her voice- it is hard to believe that she uses texts from the script and that they are not her own words. At that moment the line between the heroine and the actress is completely blurred and the image of the opera singer is debunked.

Diva’s monologue is diversified with parts of arias, e.g. “Aida”, “Troubadour”, “Samson” and “Dalia” and “La Traviata”. These works illustrate examples so they are a little bit exaggerated, stage design and choreography are humorous. However, this over interpretation and cliché texts in Węgorzewska’s performance give a great pleasure. Every song of the drama makes its real aim more visible and under the mask of scoffing at opera it attracts the audience. Because the last part of the performance is a shortened version of four acts of “Carmen (showing why it is the greatest role for every mezzo-soprano) whets the appetite. It proves that “opera in spite of its cliché, and the fact that a fat woman pretends to be slim, an ugly man pretends to be beautiful and nobody believes them is just magical”.

I was skeptical about choosing “Diva for Rent. Although Alicja Węgorzewska is thought to be one of the best opera singers in Poland, her participation in monodrama coincided with being juror in TV show. The description of the performance also tells that it can be shown during private receptions. While leaving the theater it all lost its meaning. “Diva for Rent is a pure entertainment which can attract greater audience to the opera. Although I can’t afford it, I would like to see her on my birthday party.

 

 

 

 

Agnieszka Serlikowska
Źródło: Nowa Siła Krytyczna

 

One Woman Show by Alicja Węgorzewska. The premiere of “Diva for Rent” monodrama.

Opera? It sounds serious. However Alicja Węgorzewska in her monodrama takes it with a pinch of salt. She proves that this kind of music does not have to be boring.

“Diva for Rent” is a collection of several monologues and a kind of guide through the opera. During a performance lasting more than one hour she explains the rules which govern the opera but above all she performs the most famous parts of aria. An amazing stage design was prepared by Rafał Olbiński, daring outfits by Natalie Olbiński, funny choreography (Emil Wesołowski) and protagonists acting. Although it is One Woman Show, the artist is accompanied on the stage by musicians and dancers.

It is enough to listen to a part of The Haunted Manor to understand why there is no use translating it to a mother language. The singer also conducts a quick Italian language course presenting keywords to understand the text. The singer comments acting of colleagues menacingly and with distance. She also shows a shortened version of Carmen in such a way that one feels encouraged to see the whole opera.

Thanks to Diva for Rent performance one can hear the most famous parts of operas such as “Troubadour”, “Carmen” or “Aida”. Mezzo soprano in her show denies perceiving the opera stereotypically. The way of presenting monodrama by Jerzy Snakowski and Jerzy Bończak attracts opera lovers and encourages those who are skeptical to it.

Małgorzata Warwas
Źródło: www.muzyka.pl

Alicja Węgorzewska in „Diva for Rent monodrama” 

  1. 2011-06-08 POLONIA THEATER
  2. 2011-06-09 POLONIA THEATER
  3. 2011-06-10 POLONIA THEATER
  4. 2011-06-11 POLONIA THEATER
  5. 2011-06-12 POLONIA THEATER
  6. 2011-06-13 POLONIA THEATER
  7. 2011-09-23 SZCZECIN, POLISH THEATER
  8. 2011-09-25 SZCZECIN, MIECZYSŁAW KARŁOWICZ PHILHARMONIC
  9. 2011-09-28 WARSAW, POLONIA THEATER
  10. 2011-09-29 WARSAW, POLONIA THEATER
  11. 2011-09-30 WARSAW, POLONIA THEATER
  12. 2011-10-01 WARSAW, POLONIA THEATER
  13. 2011-10-16 OSTRÓDA, CASTLE
  14. 2011-11-12 KUWAIT
  15. 2011-11-14 QUATAR, OPERA HOUSE
  16. 2011-11-15 ABU DHABI, ABU DHABI THEATER
  17. 2011-12-17 OLSZTYN, WARMIAN-MASURIAN PHILHARMONIC
  18. 2012-02-07 GDYNIA, MUNICIPAL THEATER
  19. 2012-05-08 WARSAW, POLONIA THEATER
  20. 2012-05-09 WARSAW, POLONIA THEATER
  21. 2012-05-15 GDAŃSK, STATE COAST THEATER
  22. 2012-06-20 WARSAW, KUBICKI ARCADES – POLISH-AMERICAN SUMMIT
  23. 2012-08-14 KRYNICA ZDRÓJ, CULTURE CENTER, KIEPURA FESTIVAL
  24. 2012-09-04 KRYNICA GÓRSKA, 12th ECONOMIC FORUM