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The Man from Manufaktura: a fascinating history of Łódź in two acts

The Man from Manufaktura is the first opera in the world the main character of which is the city and its unique history. The opera was created in cooperation with the Grand Theatre in Łódź and the Manufaktura in Łódź, which is the patron of this ambitious, large-scale project . The open-air premiere of the show took place on 18th of May 2019 in the Manufaktura, a revitalized post-industrial buildings that in the 19th century were part of the empire of Izrael Poznański. The Man from Manufaktura is a unique example of cooperation on a national and regional scale between city authorities, cultural institutions and private investors. The investors, aware of the historical significance of the place where the Manufaktura shopping centre is located, decided to implement this ambitious project and engage a number of public and cultural institutions in its implementation in order to promote knowledge about the rich history of Łódź and its significant role on the map of Poland.  

The world premiere of the opera "The Man from Manufaktura" took place at the Grand Theatre in Łódź on 2nd of February 2019, almost three years after the Theatre and Manufaktura announced a competition for an opera about the history of Łódź for a libretto commissioned from playwright Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk. The jury, chaired by Prof. Krzysztof Penderecki, announced the results of the competition on 10th of October 2017 and awarded the main prize to Rafał Janiak, a renowned composer and conductor of the young generation. Krzysztof Korwin-Piotrowski, a television director, is the originator and coordinator of the competition and the premiere of Israel Poznański opera and his Manufaktura.

The Opera “The Man from Manufaktura" is a two-act story about the turbulent history of Łódź. The first act of the opera presents the events from the life of Izrael Poznański, who was called the king of cotton thanks to the fact that he created one of the largest companies operating in the cotton industry in contemporary Europe, and also refers to the general strike of workers against factory owners in 1892. The second act takes place about 100 years later at the turn of the 20th and 21st century: and presents the situation of the liquidation of the factory of the cotton industry "Poltex" and the future of the place which is currently known as Manufaktura is one of the largest and most recognizable shopping, entertainment and service centres in Central and Eastern Europe.

The opera is performed by artists recognized in Poland and abroad: bas-baritone Stanisław Kierner (an artist awarded by "Hi-Fi Magazine" for a CD with works by Witold Lutosławski, he also recorded a cycle of songs "Winterreise" by Schubert. He is an Adjunct at the Academy of Music in Łódź. He honed his skills in Brussels and in Paris.

Małgorzata Walewska, mezzo-soprano, performing on opera stages in many countries around the world, among others: USA (Metropolitan Opera), Spain, Great Britain (Royal Opera House), Germany, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Michał Barczak, a graduate of Ballet School in Poznań and Film School in Łódź and Wojciech Pszoniak, famous film and theatre actor, associated with Łódź, among others: thanks to his cperformance as Moritz in the cult film "Promised Land" by Andrzej Wajda, Michał Sławecki (performs on Polish opera stages and on stages in Europe, Africa and Asia), Grzegorz Szostak (bass associated with the Grand Theatre in Łódź, cooperates with opera stages in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Szczecin and Białystok, as well as with the stages of many philharmonics). The soloists are accompanied by the Choir, Ballet and Orchestra of the Grand Theatre in Łódź under the music direction of Rafał Janiak.

The Man from Manufaktura is an unprecedented event in terms of both the scale of the project and the subject matter it touches upon: it tells the story of a city that once served as an example for the whole of Europe. Łódź was a symbol of rapid development, and then, throughout history, it went into decline, gradually rising and moving towards a bright future thanks to the passion and perseverance of many people. The Man from Manufaktura is an opera about human aspirations and desires, as well as universal values and reflections on what each of us will leave behind - says Sławomir Murawski, Director of Manufaktura, Apsys. The areas of the former factory of Izrael Poznański, have played and still play an important role for Łódź and its inhabitants. During the premiere of the opera we were accompanied by former employees of "Poltex" Plant, who received special invitations from us. The inhabitants of Łódź also took part in the event, for whom 1200 free tickets were prepared. The open-air premiere of The Man from Manufaktura took place in the month in which Manufaktura celebrates its 13th birthday. We are proud that as a Manufaktura we can support the development of the city, take care of its history and together with many wonderful people build its new history based on the huge potential offered by Łódź to both its inhabitants and investors - concludes Sławomir Murawski.

The Opera “The Man from Manufaktura” is a unique event in Poland. On developed markets, investors and developers often engage in cultural activities in the areas where they carry out their investments. In Poland it is still a song of the future. The Manufaktura has again become a precursor of activities supporting the creation of a work that will become a permanent part of Polish cultural heritage both in terms of its scale and artistic level: both the creator and the cast of the opera are leading artists not only on the Polish, but also international stage - says Joanna Rzepecka, Managing Director of the marketing agency DNA Group responsible for the organization of the outdoor premiere of the show. The Łódź Manufaktura is once again becoming a precursor of activities and, as it used to be the largest revitalization project in Poland since the reconstruction of Warsaw's Old Town, it’s now again setting the directions for the development of retail space, which is now expected to be much more than just a friendly place to go shopping in – concludes Joanna Rzepecka.

The event was co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Marshal's Office in Łódź and the Grand Theatre in Łódź.

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