Stanisław Moniuszko: Szumią jodły na gór szczycie

Written by Miles Mykkanen


In category: Song of the Day

Published June 20, 2017

Stanisław Moniuszko’s Halka is regarded as the Polish national opera and is widely performed in the composer’s homeland. However, the opera is seldom heard outside Poland despite its charming folk dances, haunting melodies, and a star turn for a lyric soprano.

Halka and Jontek grew up together in the mountains of Poland. Jontek’s designs on Halka run deeper than friendship, but Halka is deeply in love with Janusz, the owner of a nearby town, after the two have an affair which leaves Halka pregnant. As required for a proper unrequited operatic love triangle, Janusz doesn’t tell Halka he is engaged to another woman. At the beginning of Act Four, Jontek sits outside the church before Janusz’s wedding and sings this aria as he waits for Halka to arrive and crash the wedding. Spoiler alert: Jontek doesn’t convince Halka he can provide the happiness she desires and after Janusz is married she throws herself in the river—as is required for a properly tragic operatic finale.

Shameless plug: Those readers who are interested in hearing Poland’s national opera for yourself can come to the Bard Summer Music Festival on August 19 to hear Amanda Majeski sing Halka, Aubrey Allicock as Janusz, and yours truly as the unloved Jontek.

Oh, miserable Halka!
She wants to come here.
Hasn’t she had enough tears and sorrow?
She is still thinking about that unfaithful man.
When she sees him with his wife, She may die!
Oh, merciful Jesus!
May Your hand protect this lost girl!
Oh, Lord, take care of her, take care of her!
Maybe somebody will persuade her not to come,
I could not…

Firs are soughing on the mountains peaks,
They are soughing freely,
But my life is sad
As I have a grudge in my heart.
I feel it not for any other human being,
But for you, my poor dear!
Oh, Halino, oh my only one,
My dearest girl!

When we both were children,
I was wandering among black rocks
And climbing down precipices,
As I was looking for colorful birds for you.
I was bringing you
Flowers of the nicest smell
And the most beautiful
Coral beads from fairs.
I do not blame anybody,
But you, my poor dear
Oh, Halino, oh my only one,
It is your fault.

A small quickset is growing!
It becomes a tree;
You grew up and were a miracle to me.
Ach! I would jump into a fire after you.
Years, like winds, blow away,
They flow like fast streams.
A young noble man arrived
And because of him
You rejected me.
I do not blame anybody,
But you, my poor dear.
Oh, Halino, oh my only one,
My dearest girl!

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An alumnus of NYFOS’s Emerging Artist program, Miles Mykkanen is gaining recognition on the world’s concert and operatic stages for his “focused, full-voiced tenor” (The New York Times). Fred Cohn of Opera News wrote of his performance in Eugene Onegin, “Mykkanen was a knockout as Lensky.  The lyric intensity of his singing made each moment count, and the duel-scene aria was a stretch of sheer vocal gold.” Hear Miles this summer as Jontek in Halka at the Bard Music Festival, and next season in NYFOS’s opening night concert Take Care of This House.


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