Guest of the Opera
Architect, set designer, photographer, and a versatile artist active in the worlds of stage productions, theatre and film, Šimon Caban studied stage design at the College of Art and Design in Prague, and subsequently pursued his training in the studio of Prof. Josef Svoboda at the Academy of Art, Architecture and Design in Prague, graduating in 1981 with production of Shakespeare´s Antony and Cleopatra. Working in tandem with his brother, Michal Caban, he formed while still a student the Ballet Unit Spasm (1981), a dance and drama ensemble which earned repute among other projects for its joint productions with the generational association known as the Prague Five with which it has been involved in a series of stage productions, multimedia events, films, and television shows. A milestone in the development of the Ballet Unit Spasm was its featuring, in 1983, in Miloš Forman´s film Amadeus (the scene of Don Giovanni, choreographed by Twyla Tharp). This was followed by a string of the group´s own stage and audio-visual productions climaxing in the late 1980s with the rock-dance event, The Tomáš Tracy Show (1989), and the ballet episode Colours which was a part of the film The Prague Five, directed by Tomáš Vorel (1989). Šimon Caban works with his brother Michal and occasionally also with his wife, Simona Rybáková, forming a sought-after creative team receiving commissions for the mounting of atypical, one-off corporate promotional and gala events which have become noted for their originality, lively stage action, and immaculately professional execution. In the mid-1990s, the brothers Caban staged an unorthodox fashion show mounted by Simona Rybáková and Ida Saudková, featuring members of the Prague Five and other popular actors and singers, which they presented under the title Second-hand Fashion Show (1995). Between 1995 and 2002, they provided the overall architectural concept for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, as well as designing its supplementary programme and official ceremonies, carrying on to this day in that latter part of the commission. They have been engaged in similar projects with Czech Television, working on the concept of its Golden Prague International Television Festival; and have likewise contributed stage design and direction for the Academy of Popular Music Award ceremonies. On screen, they gave proof of postmodernist lack of constraint in the feature film Don Gio, an expressive cultural morality horror story on the motives of Mozart´s Don Giovanni. Their film PieceByPiece won Special Prize of the Jury at the 1998 Golden Prague International Television Festival, and in the following year received the same distinction at the IMZ Dance Screen television festival in Cologne. In the second half of the 1990s, they collaborated on the choreography (Michal) and movement (Šimon) in Czech Television features directed by Jiří Nekvasil: the music documentary Erwin Schulhoff: My Teeth Click to the Time of the Shimmy (1995); and the operatic one-acters by Bohuslav Martinů, The Tears of the Knife, The Amazing Flight (1998), and The Voice of the Forest (2000). Šimon Caban´s creative pursuits have pivoted around the domains of theatre and music. To recall only a fraction of his countless collaborations as stage designer, director and/or choreographer with various theatre companies, one should definitely mention his work for Opera Mozart (The Best of Mozart; Serail Live!), the Karlín Musical Theatre (the musical My Fair Josephine), the J.K. Tyl Theatre in Plzeň (the ballet production Casanova), the Prague State Opera (Nerone; Candide), Theatre Kalich (Hamlet; Galileo), Drama Club (Waiting for Godot), Theatre Hybernia (Golem; Baron Munchausen), Theatre Broadway (Christmas Miracle), Municipal Theatre Brno (The Naked Muse; Mucha´s Epopee), or the Moravia-Silesia National Theatre (Pardon My English). The National Theatre in Prague has seen three previous collaborations with Šimon Caban: as stage designer for its production of Smetana´s The Brandenburgers in Bohemia (1997, directed by Petr Lébl); with his brother, as director and choreographer of Janáček´s The Adventures of the Cunning Little Vixen (2002, also as set designer); and as set designer (with costumes designed by Simona Rybáková) forThe Ninth Heart (2011, directed by Juraj Herz). His architectural output has earned Šimon Caban several awards from the Czech Architects Grand Prix competition. Together with Simona Rybáková, they acted as commissioners of the national entry in the Prague Quadriennale 1999 world stage design exhibition, receiving for the Czech Republic, for the first time in the event´s history, its top award, the Golden Triga.