Books devoted to life and work of John Paul II, films showing his life and also his realization of ideas to which he served, had another form of reminiscing the Polish Pope, added by creators. It is the opera musical entitled: ‘Karol Wojtyła. A real story’.

The world premiere prepared by Italian creators of the spectacle took place on the 9th anniversary of death of John Paul II in Kraków, in the Theatre of Juliusz Słowacki. A day before in the same place, creators and artists of the spectacle they met with journalists at a press conference. – It was an honour for me to meet John Paul II personally, who made a great impression on me – Mauro Longhin, a producer of the project, said to the gathered. – I have always wanted to make something about him and for him. Unfortunately, I was short of time. I and my group came to a conclusion that there are a lot of films of various productions, but there is not any theatrical performance. We decided to make it, because we remember that John Paul II loved theatre.

Universal message

An actress prof. Halina Kwiatkowska (as an honoured guest), participating in the conference, reminded about this love of Karol Wojtyła, telling everyone about his engagement in ‘underground secret theatre’: - In 1942, during one of rehearsals, Karol said to us that he would not become an actor – and he would have been an excellent actor – because he had started studying theology. But he had been taking part in our theatre till the end of the war occupation, not to destroy the style of speaking theatre – says the actress.

Artists performing in the spectacle emphasized that it was an honour for them to have a possibility of participating in this project. Virgilio Brancaccio, acting as young Karol Wojtyła said: - After some time I discovered that Karol Wojtyła was a charismatic person. The man, who despite worries and suffering which he was bearing in his heart, became and can still be a reference point for the youth of all countries. The artist insisted that it is worth looking at this musical not only as the story of Karol who became a pope. He also pointed out to its universal message: - It is a story about a boy, who, despite worries and suffering was able to live beautifully and with dignity. Whereas, the actor acting the role of adult Karol Wojtyła, Massimiliano Colonna said: - The possibility of interpretation, acting the role of the Holy Father was a real gift: for, thanks to it, I got an occasion to become a better man. He emphasized that exact studying events, interesting moments of the main character’s life, contributed to his personal inner development.

Colourful spectacle

The conference was also attended by a singer born in Israel (Achinoam Nini), who reminded about the role of John Paul II in the dialogue between the Christians and Jews. Mentioning those performances for the Pope, Noa said – We were very proud on having crossed the barriers between two religions. It could have happened only thanks to John Paul II. And she confessed: - It is an honour for us that we have been invited to create music for the musical devoted to the person of John Paul II.

Prof. Halina Kwiatkowska, asked what she thought about such a form of reminiscing the Polish Pope, said that Karol Wojtyła was a very modern man, hence it is supposed that the musical formula of the spectacle would be in his taste.

Viewers who were lucky to participate in the world premiere, saw colourful, unusual spectacle in whose realization over 100 people participated! Whereas, on the stage there appeared 24 performers: actors, dancers, acrobats chosen during a casting all over Europe. The creators of the musical showed a story of John Paul II from the perspective of the assassination against his life. This suspension between his life and death has an influence on memories: the ones from his childhood in Wadowice, from the youthful years in Kraków and from his way to priesthood.

The 120-minute spectacle was divided into two acts. In the first one, viewers saw Karol Wojtyła, called affectionately Lolek, in Wadowice. They got to know his family (a good role of Karol Wojtyła – father of John Paul II), childhood and the beginnings of his way to holiness. Alessandro Bendinelli, acting the role of the beloved son of Emilia Wojtyła, is emotionally moving. The action of the first part ends in 1938, when Karol is already an adult. In the second act viewers move to Kraków. Here the see the story of the future pope inscribed in the reality of war occupation. The creators of the spectacle reminded, among the others, about hard work of Karol Wojtyła in a quarry but also his meeting with Jan Tyranowski – today God’s servant. A viewer watches also the life in the communist reality. On the stage, there appears, among the others, cardinal Adam Sapiecha.


A lot happens during the spectacle. Actors act their roles, singers – sing, dancers – dance, making the background for the acted events. The impression is increased by mirrors which reflect plasticity of the stage space. Duccio Forzano, the director of the musical emphasizes: - This spectacle is characterized by penetrating languages used by TV, movie and music…

In the musical the role of the personal Secretary of John Paul II is acted by a perfectly singing tenor Matteo Macchioni. Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, evaluating the project of the Italians, wrote: ‘The opera musical ‘Karol Wojtyła. A real story’. tells about all important events in the Pope’s life, who changed the world and unites Europe in its Christian roots. The opera musical wants to pay tribute to the life of the Man who changed the history of the humankind’.

Vittorio Hemsi – an inventor and producer of the world premiere of the spectacle in Kraków announces that maybe next year the Poles will see and hear the Polish version of the spectacle.


"Niedziela" 15/2014

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: