NdB February Highlights: The World Premiere of Monument is Friday
Svatopluk Sem as the sculptor Otakar Švec. Photo credit: Courtesy of NdB.
Brno, Feb. 1 (BD) – Opera is a classic art form that is best known to the general public for the famous works of famous composers of the past. Opera, however, is still very much alive.
Monument, a brand-new opera commissioned by the National Theater Brno, will premiere this Friday at Janáček Theatre — and it will address the same age-old themes of the well-known classic operas.
The libretto, or story, was created by Czech director David Radok. The music was composed by the chief conductor of the Brno opera ensemble, Marko Ivanović.
Monument refers to the massive statue of Stalin that was built in Letná in Prague and presented to the world on May Day 1955.
The story of the opera follows sculptor Otakar Švec (1892–1955), who was among a group of sculptors forced by the Communist regime to create designs for the monument. Švec submitted a design for what he thought was an unbuildable monument. It won.
There are 11 scenes that depict the atmosphere of the times and the absurdity of the situations. The work delves into the suppression of the individual by a totalitarian state and the struggle with both moral and artistic dilemmas.
In other words, it is a plot that is truly worthy of an opera.
Svatopluk Sem plays the role of Sochař, or Sculptor.
In addition to the cast, the choir and the orchestra, the actual building will also play an important role.
“The Janáček Theater building, with its large stage and architectural design embedded in the aesthetics of the 1970s, also played an important role in the initial reflections,” said Radok, who served as director and also stage designer. “Thus, the opera was literally ‘sewn onto the body’ of both the ensemble and the whole institution, even though it is not a simple piece of music and it places unusual demands on all of the performers.”
Additional performances of Monument are scheduled for Feb. 8, 28 and 29.
More traditional operas will also be performed in Brno this month. Don Carlos is set for Feb. 15; Madame Butterfly is the following week on Feb. 22 (Saturday) and 24 (Monday); then Carmen, with its recognizable melodies, will be staged on Feb. 27.
If you want to get your kids to experience the world of opera, Papageno Plays the Magic Flute, a variation of the famous Mozart production, will be performed on Leap Day Feb. 29 at 3 p.m.
Click here for the full schedule and ticket information, in English.
Here are some other February highlights for the National Theatre of Brno, for both newcomers and cultural connoisseurs:
NdB Ballet, which just celebrated 100 years on the cultural map of Europe, will present Swan Lake on Feb. 13, 14 and 26. It could be the perfect Valentine’s Day event.
For more seasoned fans of ballet, Black and White, a more experimental performance, will be on Feb. 4 and 5.
There are several interesting plays that will be staged during February. Three have English subtitles: Night of Fools (Così) on Feb. 2; The King’s Speech on Feb. 19; and Kerosene Lamps (Petrolejové lampy) on Feb. 20.
Lucerna, a magical play that mixes an on-stage mini-orchestra, creative scenery, lively costumes and excellent acting into an entertaining package, is in Czech. It continues its run on Feb. 6, 7, 9 and 10. For more information about the productions can be found at www.ndbrno.cz/drama/mahen-theatre.