Wojciech Bogusławski (of the Świnka coat of arms, one of the oldest aristocratic coats of arms in Poland) is called the ‘father of Polish theatre’, as it was he who fought for his national and progressive repertoire, which he co-created with works of patriotic and political significance (e.g. Henry VI on a Hunting Excursion, 1792, The Presumed Miracle, and Krakovians and Highlanders, 1794). For many years, he was the director of the National Theatre in Warsaw, he also ran his own theatres in Vilnius and Lviv and organised guest performances in other cities. In 1801, with his own funds, he built a theatre in Kalisz and ran it there until 1823.
The premiere of the Krakovians and Highlanders at the National Theatre in Warsaw, which he directed himself and played and sang the part of Bardos, was a great success. Full of understandable allusions and metaphors, it was directed against Targowica and called for unity… So after three performances, it was ordered to be removed from the poster. The opera was forgotten, the score of Stefani was considered lost. It was not until 1929 that it was found by Leon Schiller, and since then, the Cracovians have been an iron item in the repertoire of Polish theatres as a ‘national opera’, as Schiller called it.
Bogusławski wrote, rewrote or translated about 80 dramatic works and opera librettos, and was also an actor, opera singer, translator, teacher, director and playwright. He belonged to the Masonic lodge where he received the degree of master.
Wojciech Bogusławski around 1798, oil on canvas, author Józef Reichan,
National Museum in Warsaw