Szymon Laks's Opera Buffa at Bregenzer Festspiele

17th and 18th of August 2014, Bregenzer Festspiele’s "Family Opera" section

Szymon Laks composed “L’Hirondelle inattendue” in 1966. The libretto was written by Henri Lemarchand, also responsible for hits sung by Josephine Baker, Yves Montand, and others.

The music in Laks’s opera buffa is based on the French hit from early 20th century: “L’hirondelle de faubourg”, written in 1912 by Ferdinand Bénech (lyrics) and Ernest Dumon (music). The piece by the Polish-Jewish artist was unlucky with adaptations and was discovered relatively late. In 1975, the Polish National Television realized the first studio version of the opera – the quality of its performance was however disappointing. It wasn’t until 2011 when an adaptation that gave justice to the piece was produced – in that year, an album was released on which the opera was performed by the Polish Radio Symphonic Orchestra, conducted by Łukasz Borowicz.

Szymon Laks was a composer, conductor, author and translator. Born on November 1st, 1901, in Warsaw, to a family of assimilated Jews. For over two years, he was incarcerated in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp where he was the conductor of the camp’s orchestra. He died on 11th of December 1983.