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Karel Jernek

Karel Jernek (1910–1992) is regarded as one of the foremost representatives of the Czech school of opera stage direction in the second half of the 20th century. After studying at the Charles University in Prague he devoted professionally to theatre starting in 1939 in Brno. Already there he directed not only spoken plays, but also opera (among others, Smetana’s The Bartered Bride with the conductor Rafael Kubelík), which gradually came to dominate his work. Following a series of engagements with provincial theatres, in 1960 he began working regularly for the National Theatre in Prague where he made a name not only as a stage director with a broad dramatic repertoire but also as a translator and adapter of opera librettos. In most productions he collaborated with his second wife, the costume designer Olga Filipi. He achieved important successes also abroad, staging for example Shostakovich‘s Katerina Izmaylova at the Vienna State Opera (1965), Janáček’s From the House of the Dead at La Scala (1966), the South American premiere of Janáček’s Katya Kabanova in Buenos Aires (1968) and Janáček’s The Makropulos Affair in Antwerp (1973).

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