Born Aprl. 9, 1757, in Glinno, near Poznań; died July 23, 1829, in Warsaw. Polish actor and opera singer (bass), director, playwright, and theater figure. One of the creators of Polish professional drama and music theaters.
From 1762 to 1770, Boguslawski studied in Warsaw; in 1778 he became an actor in a drama troupe. At the same time he participated in the first attempts at creating a national opera; he wrote the libretto for M. Kamienski’s opera Misery Contented, staged in 1778 by a drama troupe with Boguslawski’s participation. From 1783 to 1784 he was director of a troupe called the National Actors, which subsequently became the National Theater, in Warsaw. In 1785 he organized a theater in Wilno (modern Vilnius) and toured throughout the cities of Poland, Galicia, and the western provinces of Russia. These tours were very important for the establishment of the Polish national theater. He returned to Warsaw in 1789 and resumed directing the National Actors troupe, where he staged works by foreign playwrights (W. Shakespeare, Moliere, P. Beaumarchais, and G. E. Lessing), as well as those by Polish authors (for example, J. Niemcewicz’s The Return of the Deputy, 1791) and his own plays (for example, Henry VI Out Hunting, 1792). Bogustawski’s activities were important for the development of the Polish opera theater; he translated the librettos and staged the operas of Western European composers. In 1794 he wrote the libretto and staged J. Stefani’s comic opera The Supposed Miracle, or Cracovians and Highlanders, which, amid the conditions of the national liberation movement of 1794, had great political reverberations. (It is still retained in the repertoires of present-day Polish theaters.) From 1799 to 1814, Boguslawski again headed the National Theater.
Bogustawski appeared with equal success in operatic as well as dramatic productions. His dramatic roles included King Lear and Hamlet in Shakespeare’s plays of the same names. Operatic roles included Axur in A. Salieri’s opera of the same name and Bardos in The Supposed Miracle, or Cracovians and Highlanders. Although Boguslawski’s approach was based on the aesthetic norms of classicism, in his art he was close to the principles of stage realism. From 1811 he taught at the Drama School in Warsaw, which was founded according to his plan.
WORKSDzieto dramatyczne, vols. 1–12. Warsaw, 1820–23.
REFERENCESIstoriia zapadnoevropeiskogo teatra, vol. 2. Under the general editorship of S. S. Mokul’skii. Moscow, 1957.
Belza, I. Istoriia pol’skoi muzykal’noi kul’tury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1954.
Galle, L. Wojciech Bogustawski . . . jego dziatalnosci. Warsaw, 1925.
SŠwiercźewski, E. Wojciech Bogustawski i jego scena. Warsaw, 1929.
Pamie̜tnik teatralny, 1954, nos. 3–4.
Hübner, Z. Bogustawski—cztowiek teatru. Warsaw, 1958.
B. I. ROSTOTSKII