Word of honour from Stanislaw Moniuszko
Premiere of Verbum Nobile opera conquers hearts of Minskers and city guests
By Yury Chernyakevich
In early June, the Gallery Chamber Musical Theatre hosted the Belarusian premiere of Stanislaw Moniuszko’s Verbum Nobile lyrical comedy. It first premiered worldwide in 1861 in Poland (during the lifetime of the outstanding Belarusian-Polish composer).
The Minsk premiere was met with enthusiasm and much ovation and applause. The musicians sat on stage instead of in the orchestra pit, creating a medieval mood and tying the show to the spirit of past centuries. The intricate and comedic plot, bright characters and appealing melodies easily charm audiences, placing this among Moniuszko’s most popular plays. Since its first showing, it has been staged several times in Poland and Russia.
The opera explores the eternal theme of love, focusing on the age-old custom (among the Belarusian and Polish gentry) of arranging their children’s marriage by ‘verbum nobile’ (word of honour). Young Polish Stanislav finds shelter at merchant Lagoda’s house, after an accident, and is cared for by the host’s daughter, Zosya. The two fall in love but marriage is impossible, as Zosya is already promised to another. Of course, we anticipate obstacles to love being removed, to ensure a happy outcome, and are not disappointed.
The Head of the Gallery Chamber Musical Theatre and founder of the Classics Musical House, Alexander Chakhovsky, directed Verbum Nobile, explaining, “Moniuszko always sought to bring his operas to Minsk — even when he lived in Poland. However, Verbum Nobile was never staged in our country, for certain reasons. We decided to make amends, allowing true lovers of music to enjoy the show.”
The opera is next to travel to Grodno, being performed on Belarus’ oldest theatrical stage: the Grodno Regional Puppet Theatre — opened by patron Anthony Tizengauz over two centuries ago. In late June, Grodno residents will be able to admire Moniuszko’s Verbum Nobile.