Halka in Haiti

Halka in Haiti

Inspired and provoked by the title character in Werner Herzog’s film Fitzcarraldo, two artists and a curator decided to revisit the mad plan to bring opera to the tropics.

With an eye to undercutting Fitzcarraldo’s colonialist Romanticism, they decided to confront a particular set of historical and socialpolitical realities by staging Stanisław Moniuszko’s opera Halka, which is considered Poland’s national opera, in the unlikely locale of Cazale, Haiti, a village inhabited by descendants of Polish soldiers who fought for the Haitian Revolution in the early 1800s.

On 7 February 2015 a one-time-only performance of Halka was presented to a rapt local audience on a winding dirt road in Cazale. A collaboration between Polish and Haitian performers, the event was filmed in one take to be presented as a large-scale projected panorama in the Polish Pavillion at the 2015 Venice Biennale.

This according to Halka/Haiti: 18°48’05”N 72°23’01”W: C.T. Jasper & Joanna Malinowska (Warsaw: Zachęta: Narodowa Galeria Sztuki, 2015).

Above, a still from the film featuring a local extra (more stills are here); below, the Biennale installation (the music starts around 5:08).

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Filed under Curiosities, Opera

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