“The aristocracy is the aristocracy. Please note, for example, that I am in no way superior to my lackeys and, que sais-je, I may even be inferior. It’s no secret, after all, that I’m an intellectual dunce, an ignoramus, a loafer, a dullard, a bore, an imbecile, a glutton, a gourmand and a nincompoop.”
Witold Gombrowicz died in July 1969 and never knew the success of Operetta: The first production of the play took place three months after the writer’s death, at L’Aquila, Italy’s Teatro Stabile, directed by Antonio Calenda.
In 1970, Operetta saw three productions.
The first one, in January, was Jacques Rosner’s production at Théâtre de Chaillot, Paris—and a true success.
The two other productions of the year were the Swedish by Eva Sköld in Malmö and the Serbo-Croatian by Vlado Jablan at Norodno Pozoriste Theater, Sarajevo.
Jorge Lavelli a présenté sa version d’Opérette d’abord en 1971 au Shauspielhaus de Bochum, en Allemagne. Ensuite, il monta la pièce en 1989 à Paris, au Théâtre de la Colline, à l’occasion du vingtième anniversaire de la mort de Witold Gombrowicz.
Jorge Lavelli presented his version of Operetta first in 1971 at the Schauspielhaus of Bochum, Germany. Next, he mounted the production in Paris in 1989 at the Théâtre de la Colline, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of Gombrowicz’s death.
The 1970s saw new productions of Operetta. In 1972, B. Jerkovic directed a production in Belgrade and Ernst Schröder in West Berlin.
In Poland, Operetta’s premiere took place in Łódź, and was directed by Kazimierz Dejmek in April 1975. This production, often revived and modified by Dejmek in Poland and elsewhere for over ten years, became a cult spectacle in the history of Polish theater..
Along with Jerzy Jarocki’s production of The Marriage the year before, Kazimierz Dejmek’s Operetta marked Witold Gombrowicz’s return to Polish stages after eighteen years of all-out censorship.
Witold Gombrowicz considered his work a parody of the form of the operetta. He did not wish to add a definitive musical score, as the Italian composer Luciano Berio had proposed to him.
He left it up to the play’s directors to choose music for their productions.
Many contemporary composers have created original music for productions: Fiorenzo Capri and Luigi Proietti (Italy, 1969), Karel Trow (Paris, 1970), Hans Martin Majewski (Bochum, 1971), Tomasz Kiesewetter (Łódź, 1975), Zygmunt Krauze (Paris, 1989), etc.
In 1996, the French filmmaker Nicolas Philibert was inspired by the play to create a documentary, La moindre des choses (Every Little Thing). This film shows the work that patients at the La Bord psychiatric hospital did on Witold Gombrowicz’s Operetta.