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The costume for the role of Lady Macbeth was given to the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków as the inheritance after the actress and singer Jadwiga Mrozowska, who had connections with the Kraków stage in the years 1902–1905. From 1905 the artist settled down in Italy, where she performed as an opera singer.

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The costume for the role of Lady Macbeth was given to the Historical Museum of the City of Kraków as the inheritance after the actress and singer Jadwiga Mrozowska, who had connections with the Kraków stage in the years 1902–1905. From 1905 the artist settled down in Italy, where she performed as an opera singer.
Jadwiga Mrozowska commissioned this costume with the thought of her role in Macbeth by William Shakespeare during her guest appearances at the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Kraków. The actress appeared in this play on 4 January 1913. The premiere of the performance had been held two years earlier, on 30 December 1911, and it was directed by Maksymilian Węgrzyn.
The costume for the role of Lady Macbeth was designed and made especially for Mrozowska by the famous draughtsman and theatrical designer Luigi Sapelli, called Caramba, from Milan. Interestingly enough, Luigi Sapelli Caramba was also the founder and owner of the famous Art House Caramba company, sewing costumes for the most important theatres, including La Scala in Milan, Le Fenice in Venice, Teatro Regio in Turin, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
The costume for the role of Lady Macbeth was styled in a medieval manner. It consists of a dress, a coat, a crown and low-heeled shoes. The dress was sewn of Indian red silk, ornamented with diagonal checks with beads resembling precious stones sewn on in the middle and on the connections of the checks. It is well-fitted at the top, with an elongated waist; the lower part is finely pleated. It has double sleeves: the outer ones are wide and pleated; the inner ones are narrow, trimmed with yellow beads.  The top of the dress is embroidered with a golden thread. There is a decorated sash on the hips with hanging strings finished with tassels and beads. In the middle of the strings are two metal rectangles with an embossed representation of a bird. The shoulders are covered with a coat fastened with a decorative band and a metal buckle, and also with a bird motif. The sides and the bottom of the coat are trimmed with a band with the motif of a stylised twig. The slide shoes (manufactured by the Panni company), with slightly elongated points and low heels, are made of the same fabric as the dress. The crown was made of brass sheet, in the form of a broad band decorated with colourful glasses stylised in cabochons (a cabochon is a precious or semi-precious stone with a spherical, semi-spherical, or elliptic cut, used in jewellery since antiquity, especially in the Middle Ages) and topped with decorative pinnacles.
There is an anecdote connected with the creation of the costume. It is alleged that Luigi Caramba was surprised to hear that Mrozowska wanted to play the tragic figure of Lady Macbeth, as she was rather the dramatic-characteristic actress whose domain were parts from the modernistic repertoire, in which she delightedly presented the psyche of a contemporary woman. After one of the fittings, the designer decided that he must see the actress on stage in this role as only an artist of an exceptional sense of style was able to wear and present that costume. And despite the lack of relevant features defining the tragic actress, Mrozowska played the part convincingly enough. The father of the artist, sitting in the proscenium gallery during the play, was to whisper to his daughter finishing the dramatic dialogue: “Jadzia, you are mean”. And Luigi Caramba did come to Kraków to admire the actress during her guest appearances on stage at the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Kraków.

Elaborated by Agnieszka Kowalska (Historical Museum of the City of Kraków), © all rights reserved

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Jadwiga Mrozowska

The situation for actresses of the city theatre at the beginning of the 20th century was not easy. Work conditions were difficult; contracts obliged actors to, for example, learn two sheets of prose or one sheet of poetry within twenty four hours (up to 100 new titles and revivals were played...

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The situation for actresses of the city theatre at the beginning of the 20th century was not easy. Work conditions were difficult; contracts obliged actors to, for example, learn two sheets of prose or one sheet of poetry within twenty four hours (up to 100 new titles and revivals were played in the season, the premiere was prepared in one week). Actors could not reject any roles they were given, whether it was a silent part, an extra, a participation in dances, singing or tableaus. 
From 1893 the regulations concerning costumes were introduced into contracts: Artists receive costumes; nonetheless, they are obliged to arrange modern wardrobe on their own, as well as underwear, leotards, hosiery, gloves and ties. Female artists must purchase all costumes at their own expense and they shall be provided with solely male costumes.
This distinct disproportion (actresses earned much less than their fellow actors and, additionally, had to cover the costs of costumes which they wore on stage) frequently led to tragic situations—many actresses searched for rich sponsors, and those who failed to earn their living were often driven to the most desperate step (as in the case of the suicidal death of Jadwiga Orlic and Maria Brodzka, who committed suicide after several years spent on stage). This affair reverberated so loudly that in 1908 Ignacy Daszyński resolved to raise this issue at a forum of the City Council.
Jadwiga Mrozowska was one of the most prominent figures on the Polish stage of that time (during her guest appearances in Kraków theatres she was in a much better situation than her fellow actresses).
In accordance with common practice, she arranged the costume in which she played Lady Macbeth (on 4 January 1913 she guest starred in the play the premiere of which, directed by Maksymilian Węgrzyn, had been held at the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre on 30 December 1911) on her own, bringing it from Italy.
Along with the theatre, the second great passion of Jadwiga Mrozowska-Toeplitz were her travels. Already as the wife of the Italian millionaire, Józef Toeplitz, and hence being now well-situated, she abandoned the theatre in favour of studying foreign languages, history, astronomy and geography. She devoted herself to travel; on one of her Asian expeditions she discovered the mountain pass in Pamir, which was named Passo J. Toeplitz-Mrozowska.
She visited India, Ceylon, Burma, Iran, Tibet, Kashmir and Ladakh. As the first woman ever she passed through the eternally snow-covered Roof of the World.
Apart from the gallery of unforgettable roles and the discovery of unknown lands, she also created a collection of oriental culture (two hundred exhibits), which she donated to the National Museum in Warsaw in 1947 as the germ of the collection of Islamic art. Could it ever occur to her that her costumes, obtained with such difficulty, in which she entertained the audience on theatrical evenings in Kraków, would also become a part of someone's collection? The costume for the role of Lady Macbeth in the collection from Małopolska's Virtual Museums is only the germ, a prop activating the avalanche of stories that compose a colourful biography of the actress, traveller, and—above all—the woman who consistently realised her passions.

Elaborated by the editorial team of Małopolska's Virtual Museums,
Licencja Creative Commons

 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Poland License.

See also: Actress Jadwiga Mrozowska’s costume of Lady Macbeth

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Actress Jadwiga Mrozowska’s costume of Lady Macbeth

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