This year's Golden Sceptre - an award bestowed annually by Bank Millennium and the Polish Culture Foundation to outstanding Polish culture artist - went to Maria Fołtyn. The Jury, lead by Beata Tyszkiewicz, awarded the prize to the Artist in recognition of her outstanding artistic accomplishments - vocal, directing, and mentorship, and for continuous promotion of Polish music in the World.
The Golden Sceptre was founded in 1999 as an artistic award, to be presented by the Polish Culture Foundation and Bank Millennium to outstanding Polish culture artists. The award is bestowed for 'work of art, in the broadest meaning of the word, of an individual human being, a community, group, social organization, artistic institution, or a cultural or scientific movement. Since the beginning, Bank Millennium has been the patron of the Gold Sceptre award as well as the proud sponsor of associated artistic events. Over the years, the Golden Scepter has been awarded to the following persons: Jerzy Giedroyć, Wojciech Kilar, Stanisław Lem, Roman Polański, Ewa Podleś, Sławomir Mrożek, Janusz Gajos, and Tadeusz Różewicz. Every year, in line with the award regulations, the Winner appoints an outstanding young generation artist as the nominee for the so-called Little Scepter. This year's winner, Maria Fołtyn made her decision to offer this distinction to a talented tenor Rafał Bartmański.
The Golden Sceptre prize-giving ceremony was held on September 26, 2007 at the National Theater - National Opera in Warsaw. The evening agenda was filled with a special staging of Śpiewnik domowy Pana Stanisława Moniuszki, arranged by Krzysztof Herdzin, with opera artists and pop music stars. Traditionally, the show is recorded by Telewizja Polska to be broadcast shortly on TVP2.
The Bank's involvement in development and creation of the Golden Sceptre award is a natural consequence of the long years of its contribution in supporting high culture artistic initiatives, with the Golden Scepter itself being recognized as one of Poland's top honors in the area of culture and arts.
Maria Fołtyn is an outstanding opera singer, a director, and a mentor. Her voice is one of the most beautiful sopranos in the history of Polish stages. She studies vocal classes in Katowice, Gdansk, and Warsaw. She also graduated in Directing from the Warsaw's PWST. Her debut was in 1949 as Halka in the Stanisław Moniuszko's opera under the same title. She continued as a soloist of the Warsaw Opera Theater till 1962, only to move to Lipsk, Germany, and in 1967 to Łódź's Grand Theater.
Having retired as an opera singer, she moved into opera directing. She became world famous thanks to her directing of Stanisław Moniuszko's operas on best stages of the World (Halka in Spanish, Turkish, Japanese, Portuguese, and English) as well as other operas of Polish and foreign authors. This was the activity that secured her a place among most iconic international promoters of Polish culture.
Over 20 years (1978-1998) she acted as the artistic director of the Moniuszko International Festival in Kudowa Zdrój. In Warsaw, she founded the Moniszko Appreciation Association, and the Moniuszko International Vocal Competition (competition held every three years since 1992), where she has been acting as a juror and director.