Major Operas | Halka by Stanisław Moniuszko | High Romantic
Premiered: 1858, Warsaw
Libretto by Włodzimierz Wolski
Guests are celebrating the betrothal of Janusz, a nobleman, to Stolnik’s daughter Zofia. They are interrupted by the voice of Halka, a serf whom Janusz promised to marry. She is now pregnant and yearns to be near him. Janusz fears that this news would ruin his prospects. Still claiming that he loves her, he arranges another meeting and persuades Halka to leave.
While the party continues, Halka comes back to the garden where she meets Jontek, another of Janusz’s serfs, who has long loved her. He unsuccessfully tries to convince her that Janusz cannot be trusted. They hear the guests wishing the couple eternal happiness. Halka throws herself against the door, demanding to see the father of her child. Janusz tells them to go and Jontek turns on him. Janusz promises him a reward if he takes Halka away and then tells everyone that she is mad.
In the village the peasants are celebrating Sunday and discussing the wedding. Jontek leads in Halka, who has now lost her reason, and they recount the events at the manor house. The villagers are sympathetic and one of them sees a black crow, a sign of ill omen. The wedding procession is heard approaching.
Jontek still wishes to help Halka and asks the piper to play a lament. Halka waits outside the village church for the procession to arrive. She tells Zofia that she has lost Jasko, her falcon, and Janusz hurries them into the church. Halka imagines her child dying of hunger and is about to set the church on fire when she hears prayers within. Calling on Janusz to pardon her, she hurls herself from the cliff into the river.
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