History

The official history of the Silesian Opera began on 14th June 1945 with the première of ‘Halka’ – the first post-war opera performance in Poland.

The Silesian Opera itself was established by a world-famous artist – Adam Didur. His authority enabled him to form in a very short time an ensemble of dedicated employees and outstanding artists, well-known in the opera world. Soon the theatre in Bytom gained the reputation of the major opera stage in Poland as well as the “breeding ground for new talents” as it was here that some of the great soloists performed i.a.: Bogdan Paprocki, Andrzej Hiolski, Krystyna Szostek-Radkowa, Romuald Tesarowicz, Maria Fołtyn, Wiktoria Calma, Natalia Stokowacka, Anna Lorenc, Jolanta Wrożyna, Wiesław Ochman (also as a director); and dancers: Barbara Bittnerówna, Olga Sawicka, Gerard Wilk, Henryk Konwiński. The Opera has been promoting young talents via organising – since 1979 – the Opera Singers’ Competition named after Adam Didur, the founding father of the Silesian Opera.  So far we have had six Polish and three international editions of that contest  which remains a unique event worldwide, making the Polish opera culture famous in various parts of the world.

1945

14th June
première of “Halka” on the stage of the Silesian Theatre in Katowice - the first post-war opera performance in Poland. The date has since been considered as the official beginning of the future Silesian Opera. 

15th September
première of “Tosca” by G. Puccini. Title role - Wiktoria Calma, Cavaradossi – Lesław Finze, Scarpia - Andrzej Hiolski.  The future name of the theatre appears for the first time on the poster: the Silesian Opera.

29th November
official opening of the season with “Halka” by St. Moniuszko, after the building of the Municipal Theatre in Bytom had been taken over by the new institution – inauguration of the activity in new premises: the Katowice Opera with the seat in Bytom  (official name until the Opera became nationalized). 

9th December
Bytom. Première of “Calaveria Rusticana” by P. Mascagni and “Pagliacci” by Leoncavallo – the first premières on the Bytom stage.

1949

1St September
the name officially changed from “the Katowice Opera with the seat in Bytom” to “the State Silesian Opera in Bytom.” 

18th September
inauguration of the 1949/50 artistic season – “Halka” by St. Moniuszko. The thousandth performance in the Silesian Opera.

1955

18th June
première of  “Halka” by St. Moniuszko on the 10th anniversary of the Silesian Opera. The main parts sung by Jadwiga Lachetówna, Bogdan Paprocki – Jontek, Andrzej Hiolski – as Janusz, Antoni Majak – as Stolnik, Olga Szamborowska – as Zofia.

1965

7th - 17th June
20th anniversary of the State Silesian Opera; the repertoire includes i.a.: “The Haunted Manor” by St. Moniuszko, “Otello” by G. Verdi, “Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky, première of “Halka” by St. Moniuszko, gala concert  with the participation of Krystyna Szczepańska, Andrzej Hiolski, Bogdan Paprocki, Wiesław Ochman and Antoni Majak.

1970

13th June
Bytom. Première of “Magnus” by Józef Świder (texts and literary cooperation - Tadeusz Kijonka) on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the State Silesian Opera.

1975

18th June
première of  “Halka” by St. Moniuszko on the 30th anniversary of the Silesian Opera.

1979

21st - 28th October
1st edition of the National Adam Didur Opera Singers’ Competition. 1st prize - Paweł Janowski (bass); 2nd prize - Małgorzata Armanowska (soprano); 3rd prize ex aequo - Elżbieta Towarnicka (soprano) and Janusz Wenz (tenor). Moreover, another five equal honorary mentions.

1980

7th June
première of “King Roger” by K. Szymanowski on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the Silesian Opera.

1981

21st - 28th  October
2nd edition of the National Adam Didur Opera Singers’ Competition. 1st prize was not awarded;  2nd  prize ex aequo: Renata Rentowska (soprano), Romuald Tesarowicz (bass),  Radosław Żukowski (bass); 3rd  prize ex aequo: Jolanta Bibel (mezzo-soprano), Janusz Monarcha (bass-baritone). Moreover, two other equal honorary mentions.

1983

28th May
Bytom. Première of  “Nabucco” by G. Verdi  – the opera become the artistic show-piece of the Silesian Opera.

1984

9th - 16th December
3rd  National Adam Didur Opera Singers’ Competition. 1st prize – Monika Swarowska-Walewska – soprano, 2nd prize – Krzysztof Bednarek – tenor, Czesław Gałka – bass-baritone, 3rd prize – Teresa Krajewska-Kulesza – soprano, Piotr Maciej Nowacki – bass and Wiesław Nowak – bass. Honorary mentions: Krzysztof Jakubowski – tenor, Tadeusz Piszek – baritone, Jolanta Wrożyna – soprano.

1985

18th June
première of  “Halka” by St. Moniuszko on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Silesian Opera. 

9th - 25th October
the USA and Canada tournee of the Silesian Opera ensemble with the performances of “Halka”

1989

9th - 16th December
3rd National Adam Didur Opera Singers’ Competition. Results: 1st prize - Wojciech Drabowicz (baritone), 2nd prize – Barbara Krzekotowska (soprano), 3rd  prize (ex aequo) – Dorota Wójcik (soprano),  Beata Morawska (mezzo-soprano). Honorary mentions: Agnieszka Kurowska-Janecka (soprano), Tadeusz Słowiak (tenor), Jacek Krośnicki (tenor), Paweł Czekała (bass).

1990

16th June
45th  anniversary of the Silesian Opera - première of  “The Haunted Manor” by St. Moniuszko.

1994

24th April - 2nd May 

5th National Adam Didur Opera Singers’ Competition. 1st prize - Andrzej Szkurhan – baritone (Ukraine), 2nd prize – Maria Zientek – soprano, 3rd prize – Krzysztof Borysewicz – baritone, Beata Raszkiewicz – soprano. Honorary mentions: Edyta Cichomska-Bilska – soprano, Barbara Dobrzańska – soprano, Anna Lorenc – soprano, Agnieszka Mazur – soprano, Tadeusz Pszonka – tenor, Małgorzata Ratajczak – mezzo-soprano, Rafał Songan – baritone, Adam Żaak – baritone.

1995

14th June
jubilee celebration on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the State Silesian Opera. The celebrations are held under the patronage of Prime Minister Józef Oleksy, Minister of Culture and Arts Kazimierz Dejmek and the Voivode of Katowice Eugeniusz Ciszak. Gala premiere of “Halka” by. St. Moniuszko.

29th November
Bytom. “Halka” - on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first performance of the Silesian Opera on the Bytom stage.  Jontek – Józef Homik (guess performance). The performance closed the series of events celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Silesian Opera.

2000

1st January
change of name to “Silesian Opera in Bytom.” The institution is from now on supervised by the Marshal of the Silesian Voivodeship.

23rd August
around midnight fire breaks out in the philharmonic part of the theatre premises. The ballet room is completely destroyed.   The work of the combined firefighting teams stops the fire from spreading to the other parts of the building, including the stage and auditorium. 

21st - 28th October
4th edition of the National Adam Didur Opera Singers’ Competition. The jury decided not to grant the first prize.  The second prize was awarded to:  Agnieszka Bochenek-Osiecka i Artur  Ruciński, third prize: Dariusz Machej, Tomasz Mazur, Bogusław Zalasiński. Honorary mentions were granted to: Barbara Baranowska, Mariusz Godlewski, Krzysztof Witkowski.

2001

1st December
premiere of “Tannhäuser” by R. Wagner. The 100th anniversary of the Silesian Opera building.

2004

17th – 25th October
1st International Adam Didur Opera Singers’ Competition (7th national edition of the competition). 1st prize ex aequo: Antonio Interisano (Italy), Ryszard Kalus,  2nd prize - not granted, 3rd prize - ex aequo: Fatma Kasyanenko (Ukraine), Aleksandra Buczek. Honorary mentions:  Magdalena Witczak, Jolanta Wyszkowska, Joanna Ciupa.

14th December
official opening of the elegant Adam Didur Concert Hall - named to commemorate the creator of the Silesian Opera.

2005

18th June
”Halka” by St. Moniuszko - première on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Silesian Opera.

2008

17th – 25th October
2nd International Adam Didur Opera Singers’ Competition. Grand prix, 1st prize - Elena Xanthoudakis (Australia), Liudas Mikalauskas (Lithuania), 2nd prize - Lina Liu (China), Jarosław Kitala, 3rd prize - Lee EunHee (South Korea), Stanislav Kufluk (Ukraine). Honorary mentions: Monika Świostek, Aleksandra Kubas, Beata Witkowska-Glik, Bartosz Urbanowicz, Michał Partyka, Adam Sobierajski.

2010

18th June
première of  “The Haunted Manor” by St. Moniuszko on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Silesian Opera; on 14th June – exactly to the day, 65 years after the historic première of “Halka,” the opera was performed in the Tadeusz Kościuszko Park in Katowice

2012

17th – 25th October
3rd International Adam Didur Opera Singers’ Competition. Grand Prix, 1st prize - Justyna Samborska, Stanislav Kufluk (Ukraine), 2nd prize – Ekaterina Bakanova (Russia), Piotr Halicki, 3rd prize – Liudmyla Ostash (Ukraine), Bartosz Araszkiewicz. Honorary mentions: Olesya Chuprinova, Małgorzata Smolik, Ewa Wąsik, Paweł Płuska, Rafał Pawnuk, Andrejus Apšega (Lithuania).

2015

30th May - 14th June
The 70th anniversary of the Silesian Opera. The celebration included the premiere of "Verbum nobile" and "On the Billet" by St. Moniuszko and new productions of the musical "The Enchanted Ball" by K. Gaertner and T. Kijonka and the opera "Halka" by St. Moniuszko.

The Silesian Opera was the first Polish theatre to make a radio broadcast (“Halka” at Christmas 1945). 
It was also the first Polish theatre to be honoured with the “Golden Record” and later with the “Platinum Record” in the category of Classical Music for having recorded Giuseppe Verdi's “Nabucco” on a CD.
 The phonographic achievements of the Silesian Opera include as well: “Pokój Saren”(Lech Majewski, Józef Skrzek, autobiographical opera in 4 acts with the participation of the Silesian Opera choir and the Symphonic Orchestra of the Polish Radio), Dżem in Opera part I and II;  “The Haunted Manor” – archive recording of 1953 with the participation of the Orchestra and Choir of the Polish Radio in Cracow and the soloists of the Silesian Opera published in 2009 on the occasion of Roman Paprocki’s  jubilee; Polish carols and pastorals sung by the Silesian Opera Choir; stage cantata “Carmina burana” by Carl Orff recorded in 2011 and the most recent 2CDs publishing “The Silesian Opera recommends – opera and operetta hits”  recorded on the Bytom stage in 2012 (awarded Golden Record in 2013).  The Silesian Opera has been also awarded numerous prizes including i.a.  Golden, Platinum and Crystal Laurel of Skills and Competence; Brand-Silesia in the category of “Culture”; the Award of the Promotional Emblem - THE ICON OF SILESIA 2011; the Jan  Kiepura Theatre Musical Award  i.a for the performance of the year (“Don Carlos”); the whole collection of the GOLDEN MASKS - the artistic award of the Silesian Voivodeship in the following categories i.a.: “Performance of the Year” (“Don Carlos”, “Aida”, “Carmina burana”)  or Directing (“Don Carlos”, “Carmina burana,” “Tannhäuser”).

The Silesian Opera is also the publisher of ”Half century of the Silesian Opera 1945-2000” edited by Tadeusz Kijonka. The richly illustrated album chronicles on its 528 pages the history of the Silesian Opera, lists the most important events, reviews the greatest repertoire and soloist achievements, includes maps and places of performances staged in Poland, Europe and around the world, great anniversaries and famous artistic visits. Altogether, the album includes over 1000 illustrations, sepia and colour photos.

From the very beginning, the Opera ensemble has been also performing off-site (in concert halls and in the open air), following the idea of Adam Didur, whose aim was to promote the opera art wherever it was possible. The list of locations in Poland where the Silesian Opera has given its performances has been constantly growing. The Silesian Opera was the first Polish theatre to give its performance abroad; on numerous occasions it has performed on international stages.  It was the first Polish opera ensemble to go on tour on the American continent. Today, the list of countries visited by the Silesian Opera has been quite long and  includes inter alia the Czech Republic, Slovakia, former Yugoslavia, Germany, Luxembourg, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Sweden, Austria, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Portugal. Switzerland, Ireland, Mexico, Ukraine, Canada, the USA.  None of the other theatres can be compared to the Silesian Opera as regards the number of guest performances and frequency and most of all as regards the reach of the guest performances, especially in the recent years when the number of tours abroad has significantly intensified.  The Silesian Opera enjoys great reputation in Germany, the Netherlands and in Portugal. Our artists have performed several times in Berlin –  in the Herbert von Karajan Philharmonic Concert Hall and in the Konzerthaus and they often visit the Munich Philharmonic Concert Hall.

The artistic achievements of the Silesian Opera include over 260 premières of operas, operettas and ballet performances.  The current repertoire consists of about 30 titles, i.a. operas: “Ubu Król” by Penderecki, “Tannhäuser” by Wagner, “Boris Godunov” by Mussorgsky, “Carmen” by Bizet, “Orfeo ed Euridice” by Gluck, “The Haunted Manor” and “Halka” by Moniuszko, “Lucia di Lamermoor” and “Mary Stuard” by Donizetti, “Don Giovanni” by Mozart, “The Barber of Seville” by Rossini, “Madama Butterfly”, “La boheme” and “Tosca” by Puccini, “Eugene Onegin” by Tchaikowsky, “Aida”, “Nabucco,” “La Traviata,” “Rigoletto,” “Don Carlo” by Verdi, “Manru” by Paderewski; stage cantata “Carmina burana” by Orff; ballets: “Romeo and Juliet” by Berlioz, “Cinderella” by Prokofiew, “Pan Twardowski” by Różycki, “Snow White,” “Puss in Boots” by Pawłowski, “Nut Cracker” by Tchaikowsky; musicals: “Phantom” by Y. Yeston, “My Fair Lady” by F. Loewe, “Enchanted ball” by K. Gaertner and T. Kijonka; operettas: “The Gypsy Princess” by I. Kalman,  “The Bat” and “The Gypsy Baron” by J. Strauss, “The Merry Widow” by F. Lehar.

The Silesian Opera in Bytom is a cultural institution of the Local Government of the Silesian Voivodeship.