Popiel, married Swiecka, Romana (1849-1933), an actress. Born 2-22-1849 in Warsaw, she was a daughter of Jan Popiel (vide) the dancer and Magdalena Sauret. At the beginning she attended the Warsaw Ballet School, giving concurrently performances. In 1866 she graduated from the School of Drama at Warsaw Government Theaters. During 1853-1863 she played children roles at Warsaw Government Theaters, among others as Henryk in "Klara", J. Korzeniowski. Her debut was on 12-21-1866 at the Lviv Theater as Adrianna in Th. Barriere'a "Pozar w klasztorze". In Lviv she stayed four seasons (1866-70), in variety of rolles. She played in commedies, dramas, and simultaneously she sung and danced in operetas. It gave her an authority of gesture and voice; her voice being "not so-powerfull, however warm and elastic". Her laughter was legendary, going through entire chromatic gamut. She was the best Polish "nave" and as such she was famous even at the beginning of her career in Cecylia ("Pociecha rodziny" A. Burgeois and A. Decourcelle), Irena ("On bedzie moim" K. Kaszewski), Jadwiga ("Zbudzilo sie w niej serce" W. M. Konigswinter), Helena ("Gapiatko z St. Flour" J. F. A. Bayard and G. Lenoine); in relation with her rolle of Paulina in an  A. Asnyk commedy "Walka stronnictw" the poet wrote a poem on her (Abdykacja), which became one of his most popular poems. During 1867 summer ge performed with the Lviv team in Lublin and in 1868 in Czerniowce and Stanislaw. Since May 4 to May 16 1870 she performed as a guest at Warsaw Government Theaters which brought to her an engagement in Warsaw. On 11-11-1870 she gave her farewell performance in Lwow.

First time as an actress of Warsaw Government Theaters she performed at Teatr Rozmaitosci on 19 XII 1870 as Matylda in M. Hartmann's "Kazdy wiek ma swoje prawa". She performed at Warsaw Government Theaters for 10 seasons touring with Warsaw actors and actresses and performing in Court Theater in Skierniewice. In Warsaw she performed many of her Lviv rolles, adding new rolles from performances written by authors: Asnyk, H. Meilhac, L. Halevy, E. Pailleron. In particular she was famous as Antonina in Pailleron's "Iskierka" her great rolles were also Klara in Fredro's "Sluby panienskie" and Matylda "Wielki czlowiek do malych interesow". Her greatest merit was giving  new life to the character of "nave", which on the other hand was kind of obsolete character those days. She was very spontaneous and a good interpreter. Her "nave" was curageously styled pastiche-like picture, so fashionable that time, built around realistic features with masterly finish. Less convincing were her drama characters, "lacking tragic pathos and dramatic passion" (Wladyslaw Boguslawski). In spite of that some of them found their way with rigorous reviews.

On 7-3-1880 Romana was married to Wandalin Swiecki. Together they left Poland for several months trip (Germany, Switzerland, England, Italy). On 2-16-1881 she restarted her performances at Warsaw Government Theaters, in April 1881 she performed as a guest actress in Lwow, then again at Warsaw Government Theaters, and on 5-28-1881 she gave her last performance as Amalia in Asnyk's "Galazka heliotropu". After her next trip abroad the management of the Warsaw Government Theaters did not extended the contract despite strong opinionc of the public and review columnists. Also, her husband's family was against her continuig the career. She was living in Warsaw since,  taking parts in the performances and concertos, but exclusively for charity. Halina Ostrowska-Grabska wrote that "her name on the posters was a strong guarantee of success therefore various commitees competed for getting Romana on the performance". During 1907-9 she was teaching diction and declamation at Warsaw Music Society and during 1912-13 she was a teacher at the Antonina Walicka's School. During 1914-19 she was in Russia. After return to Poland she continued as a teacher at the Teachers' Seminary and at School of Drama of the State Conservatory in Warsaw (1927-8), she was also giving private tutorials. She died in Warsaw on 12-12-1933, buried in Powazki cemetery. She was decorated with the Order of Polonia Restituta.

Her marriage with Wandalin Swiecki brought three daughters: Maria, an opera singer, Zofia Swiecka-Martin, a painter and Romana, a wife to Ludwik Czarnowski.


Miller K., Portret, litogr. (reprod. W: "Mucha" 1875 nr 5); Ostrowski K., Portret rzezba (popiersie, P. pozowala do kilku innych jego rzezb); Zelechowski K., Portret na scianie garderoby L. Solskiej, w: Teatr im. Slowackiego w Kr.;- Slown. TeatruPol., (bibliogr. Ikonogr., fot.);- Boguslawski W., Sily i srodki naszej sceny, Wyd. 2., W. 1961 (fot.); Mikulski T., "Sukienke miala w paseczki…", W: Miniatury krytyczne, W. 1976 s. 208-12; Pini-Suchodolski J., Romana Popiel, W. 1962 (fot.); Wilski Z., Polskie szkolnictwo teatralne 1811-1944, Wr. 1978;- Grzymala-Siedlecki A., Swiat aktorki moich czasow, Wyd. 2, W. 1973 (fot.); Kotarbinski J., Aktorzy i aktorki,W. 1924 s. 159-65 (fot.); Malkowska H., Teatr mojego zycia, L. 1976; Ostrowska-Grabska H., Bric a brac, 1848-1939, W. 1978 (fot. potretu, rzezby K. Ostrowskiego);- "Kur. Warsz." 1933 nr 345 wyd. Wieczorne s. 12, nr 346 wyd. Wieczorne s. 9.

 Marek Chimiak

Translation from Polish to English: sp

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This site was created on June 15, 1998 and updated on May 11, 2007
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