The main point of the programme will be the work of Béla Bartók, famous for its many controversies. In the Main Hall of the National Forum of Music, music to The Miraculous Mandarin, a ballet staged in the interwar period, will sound.
Written 11 years after The Rite of Spring, Bartók's one-act ballet has not gained as much recognition until today as the composition of Igor Stravinsky. The story could have gone differently if the premiere of The Miraculous Mandarin took place in Paris and not in Cologne. Perhaps thanks to the presentation of the work in the capital of France, the scandal accompanying the premiere would have had a much wider impact. However, this did not happen, and The Miraculous Mandarin is still popular today in the form of an orchestral suite created based on music for the entire ballet. Intense, sometimes predatory and sparkling with bright colours, Bartók's music is a perfect complement to the scandalous content of the ballet. The work of the composer still in his thirties is celebrated today as one of the masterpieces of expressionism.
The libretto of The Miraculous Mandarin penned by Melchior Lengyel would be a great screenplay for a thriller with elements of science fiction today. It is a story about the life of the underworld in the centre of a large metropolis. Three criminals force a young woman to participate in their scams. Her task is to lure men next to be robbed by the thieves. The girl’s sex appeal attracts a foreigner dressed as a Chinese mandarin, as if coming from another, esoteric world. Attacked by the thugs, he does not die until he rests in the arms of a woman. As one of the Polish ballet specialists Irena Turska rightly pointed out, in the composer's terms, the Mandarin figure refers to Chinese dignitaries only in a metaphorical way. Referring to such motives as power and the strength of spirit, Bartók emphasises the main features of a superhuman creature that will not rest until it satisfies its urges.