The “Ukraine – let’s make an opera together” project, addressed to Ukrainian children from evacuated orphanages participating in workshops led by Polish and Ukrainian artists is nearing its end. The opera “Zaporozhets beyond the Danube” by Semen Kulak-Artemovsky, directed by Michał Znaniecki, will premiere on August 13 at a training center near Warsaw. The show will be graced by the orchestra and choir of the Kharkiv Opera and Ballet Theater, who were also forced to leave their country.

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Since the beginning of Russia’s aggression on Ukraine, the National Institute of Music and Dance has been offering regular aid activities within the framework of the wspieraMY Ukrainę (We stand for Ukraine) program. These activities include, among others, psychological assistance and artistic residencies, as well as activities for children and young people evacuated in late February and early March from Ukrainian boarding schools and orphanages. In cooperation with the Most the Most Foundation, the Institute held a series of interdisciplinary educational workshops led by Ukrainian and Polish artists. As part of the activities, the children learned how to create sets, costumes, dance and sing, among other things. The finale of the project will feature a presentation of the opera “Zaporozhets beyond the Danube” by Semen Kulak-Artemovsky, produced under the direction of Michał Znaniecki. The presentation will take place on Saturday, August 13.

– Over the past months, we have seen a tremendous change in the children’s behavior. We now hear them laugh much more often, and there is a glimmer of hope in their eyes saysKatarzyna Meissner, director of the National Institute of Music and Dance.   For us, this is one of those projects that demonstrates the power of art in a tangible way, showing how it can change lives for the better.  

Oksana Klimiuk, one of the coordinators of the project, also noted that the children were very cautious when engaging in workshops conducted in an entirely different manner than school lessons:

– Children were slow to volunteer for singing or dancing classes. But once they started listening to music and trying to dance, they also opened up to relationships, and tuned in to the directions of tutors and the group. The language of art began to connect them to the world. We saw them grow through these classes. 

The final presentation featuring the opera artists from Ukraine is the result of several months of work by children and young people who participated in interdisciplinary artistic workshops. In addition to performing choreographic or choral fragments together, the young artists also contributed elements of stage design, props and even costumes on their own. As per Michał Znaniecki, director of the undertaking:

– After 2 months of workshops spanning all opera techniques, we are now entering the rehearsal phase. We have been joined by Ukrainian soloists, singers, orchestra and choir, and we are starting to combine what the children have learned with the parts of professional singers, with whom I am rehearsing as a director. We will pair their contributions with the children’s skills so that they can become active participants in the show. Soon we will demonstrate to and verify with the children how all these techniques combine on stage with scenography, lighting, solo performances, the choir, singers and a huge orchestra. This is sure to make a massive impression.

Also participating in the performance will be the orchestra and chorus of the Kharkov Opera and Ballet Theater, whose headquarters were bombed by the Russians. In April, the ensemble evacuated with their families and is currently staying in Slovakia. They will come to Poland specifically to perform the opera together with the children. The arrival of these professional artists has been made possible by the financial support of SCAPR (Societies’ Council for the Collective Management of Performers’ Rights) in cooperation with STOART.

The project is organized by the National Institute of Music and Dance, in cooperation with and thanks to the financial support of the Most the Most Foundation

Director Michal Znaniecki talks about the preparations:

About the Most for Most Foundation

The Most the Most Foundation is an independent non-profit organization. Its mission is to foster social capital by supporting culture, artists and intergenerational cooperation. The Foundation aims to build a bridge between the past and the future based on history, tradition and culture. It wants to be an integrator and inspirer of many generational and social groups for the benefit of culture and national heritage.

The organizers would like to thank the following institutions for their support in implementing the project:

Grand Theater – Polish National Opera in Warsaw

Artur Rubinstein Philharmonic Orchestra of Łódź

Dariusz Albrycht and Agencja Artystyczna E M A sp. z o.o.


Mirosław Mastalerz

Project coordinator:
Magdalena Sowińska

Media contacts:
Agata Szymczak, +48 785 310 000
Agnieszka Wyszomirska; +48 887 240 011