— At the Festival

Published on April 3 2018


© Robert Wolanski

Centred on the character of Renata – a young woman victim of delirium and hallucinations – The Fiery Angel will find in the personality of Mariusz Treliński its ideal stage director. The world of Kafka into which he intends to plunge us can only increase the scenic potentialities of this obsessional quest, powerfully set to music by a Prokofiev on the verge of expressionism… There is plenty to keep you busy in this irresistibly crazy love story, a real epileptic dream. Rendez-vous from the 5th July at the Grand Théâtre de Provence!


From the age of fifteen, I have been looking at the world through the viewfinder of a camera.

Nobody should be surprised at this: Mariusz Treliński celebrated his twentieth birthday in the prestigious School of Cinema of Łódź in Poland. A student life perturbed by the proclamation “the state of war” which as early as 1981, hastened the decomposition of the Soviet world. Mariusz Treliński thus became the occular witness as much of the before, as of the after: a first television film under the Communist regime, then some films and theatre productions in a changed country which the director enjoyed discovering as much as questioning. Provoking a scandal, in his film Egoiści (The Egoists) – which he considers the most dangerous of all – he examines the current intellectual elite in Warsaw for whom alcohol, drugs and sex rhyme with perversion.


I came to opera as an outsider.

This field, which hitherto was unknown to him did not take long to give in to him, and allow the Polish film maker to make a clean start. As early as 1996, Mariusz Treliński tries his hand at staging opera and carries off his first international success in 1999. His production of Madama Butterfly which Plácido Domingo defined as the most beautiful of his lifetime contributed to making the director one of the darlings of the contemporary opera stage.


It is with images that I tell stories, to a certain extent, I paint the operas…

Transposing the various opera plots into the contemporary period: this is Mariusz Treliński’s choice, as he attempts to combine the beauty of the music and the codes of opera on one hand, with interpretations, sensitivities and current aesthetics on the other hand. This is what he does in his stagings and it is also what he bases his artistic choices on for the stage of the National Opera of Poland, where he has been the Artistic Director since 2008. Placed under his authority the Wieki Theatre in Warsaw now has a completely new appearance. It must be said that Mariusz Treliński makes every effort to ensure that ousiders who are not from the same milieu as him are invited to come to the theatre both on stage and off.


All of my productions are connected to things which have happened to me in my life either directly or spiritually.

It is thus that, Mariusz Treliński puts an accent on the neurosis which the majority of characters in Eugene Onegin are suffering from and breaks away from the Russian context in which the work is set. The result is a production that the press considers both “strange and fascinating”, by its capacity to bring out the strength and the modernity of Tchaikovsky’s opera. Since we are dealing with a question of modernity, what could be better, than transferring the action of Manon Lescaut into a Parisian metro station to make the Puccinian heroine our contemporary? Eroticism and lust are once again present in Powder her Face by Thomas Adès: an opera crammed full of references to neo-pop art, to punk rock as well as the urban landscapes of the American painter Edward Hopper. A touch of glamour, if ever there was one: the Duchess’s marital bed turns into a deadly bath tub where she opens up her veins with the help of a perfume bottle.


I have always been fascinated by the films of the 1940’s, especially because of their latent eroticism (…) the Hollywood film makers were not permitted to show anything explicitly violent or erotic, but these things are often bubbling just under the surface.

Mariusz Treliński’s staging’s are full of cinematographic references. The stage coupling of Iolanthe with Bluebeard’s Castle can be seen as a thriller or even a horror film and freely flirts with the film noir. As for Tristan und Isolde, the action takes place aboard a warship, which at first sight seems to be contemporary, but in fact turns out to be timeless. In the background: 2001: A Space Odyssey and Matrix, but also metaphysical considerations and other allusions to the Cold War and indeed other planetary conflicts.

Aurélie Barbuscia
Translation: Christopher Bayton