The Lodz Grand Theatre is the artistic continuator of its exquisite predecessor, the Lodz Opera House, whose establishment was spurred by the passion and commitment of the Association of Friends of the Lodz Opera House, led by its chief representatives, musicians Władysław Raczkowski, Tomasz Kiesewetter and Mieczysław Drobner, along with Sabina Nowicka, the then director of the Opera College in Łódź. For more than a decade, the Lodz Opera House presented its opera and ballet premieres at the stages of the Nowy Theatre and S. Jaracz Theatre, before being renamed the Lodz Grand Theatre in 1966 and moving to its new seat at Dąbrowskiego Square. In total, the Lodz Opera House hosted 31 opera and ballet premieres.
Another chapter in the history of the Łódź operatic scene began “with a bang,” as the first management of the Grand Theatre, in the persons of Stanislaw Piotrowski (general director) and Zygmunt Latoszewski (artistic director), presented the audience – in and outside of Łódź – with a quadruple bill of impressive productions, staged on four consecutive nights: Stanisław Moniuszko’s Halka (January 19, 1967), Alexander Borodin’s Prince Igor, Moniuszko’s The Haunted Manor and Georges Bizet’s Carmen. Since 1967, the Lodz Grand Theatre has staged more than 300 premieres, including classical opera and ballet pieces, musicals and operettas, as well as compositions by outstanding Polish contemporary artists. The theatre has hosted the world premieres of Romuald Twardowski’s Lord Jim, Mary Stuart, and A Tragedy of John and Herod. It was here that the celebrated presentations of Krzysztof Penderecki’s The Devils of Loudun and Ubu the King. The rich history of the Grand Theatre’s repertoire has been written by artists of such stature as directors Roman Sykała, Kazimierz Dejmek, Maria Fołtyn, Adam Hanuszkiewicz, Maciej Prus, Marek Weiss-Grzesiński, Ryszard Peryt; stage designers Henri Poulain, Franciszek Starowieyski, Marian Kołodziej, Marian Stańczak, Andrzej Kreuz-Majewski; outstanding conductors Bohdan Wodiczko, Bogusław Madey, Antoni Wicherek, Tadeusz Wojciechowski, Wojciech Michniewski, Ewa Michnik, Tadeusz Kozłowski; and eminent choreographers Feliks Parnell, Witold Borkowski, Conrad Drzewiecki, Teresa Kujawa, Ewa Wycichowska, Antal Fodor, Lorca Massine, Gray Veredon and Giorgio Madia.
None of the Lodz Grand Theatre’s successes would have been possible were it not for the outstanding soloists and respective ensembles, who have been the company’s greatest strength over the years. Its rising stature has been attested to by the guest appearances of world-class singers (Victoria de Los Angeles, Fedora Barbieri, Kiri Te Kanawa, Daniela Dessi, Barbara Hendrix, Renato Bruson, Jose van Dam, Placido Domingo, Franco Bonisolli, Andrea Bocelli, Jose Cura), as well as the company’s stagione performance at the Teatro Vittorio Emanuele (which included presentations of Aida and Lucia di Lammermoor) and at the Lyon Opera House (Halka and The Haunted Manor), among others.
In 2012, thanks to the support received from the European Funds, the seat of the Lodz Grand Theatre underwent a thorough modernization, the first in over 40 years (for a detailed description of the project, see the link). Over the course of the renovation, the company did not cease its activities and performed on the stage of the S. Jaracz Theatre, as well as in other venues in Łódź. The company returned to its home stage on April 6, 2013 with the Łódź premiere of Gaetano Donizetti’s opera Anna Bolena.
Since 1968, the Lodz Grand Theatre has organized the international festival of ballet Lodz Ballet Encounters. During the 24 editions held to-date (the festival takes place every two years), the city of Łódź has hosted a number of major ballet companies from around the world, including: Maurice Béjart’s 20th Century Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater, Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet, Ballet Rambert, Cullberg Ballet, Batsheva Dance Company, Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet, Boris Eifman’s St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre, Alicia Alonso’s Ballet Nacional de Cuba, as well as all ballet companies of Polish musical theaters.
Following the administrative reform of Poland, which went into effect on January 1, 1991, the Lodz Grand Theatre became an Institution of Culture of the Local Government of the Łódzkie Province; the organizational and financial stabilization entailed in the reform has opened new opportunities for the company’s development and the continuity of its repertoire, which has consistently featured some of the most renowned classical opera and ballet pieces, as well as works by contemporary composers of the highest artistic caliber. In September 2014, with the Grand Gala marking the opening of the new season, held at Dąbrowskiego Square in front of the theater, the company began the celebrations of its 60th anniversary, as the grand open-air show gathered more than 2,000 spectators. The highlight of the anniversary celebration was the premiere of Stanislaw Moniuszko’s The Haunted Manor. Just as 60 years ago, the anniversary performance of this seminal Polish opera piece, directed by Krystyna Janda and conducted by Piotr Wajrak, wowed and delighted the audience. Since 2019, the Lodz Grand Theatre has been co-run by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland..
As of September 2022, the Lodz Grand Theatre has staged 334 opera and ballet premieres.