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opera 15. 10. 2014

Salome at State Opera with Gun-Brit Barkmin

One of today´s most progressive European directors Mariusz Treliński will present his production of Salome after seven weeks of intensive rehearsals at the State Opera. The music and libretto of the opera by Richard Strauss will be prepared by German composer and conductor Heiko Mathias Förster. After premieres on 23 and 26 October 2014 at 8 p.m. each evening, the spectacle will be presented to the Prague audiences another three times during the year that marks 150 years since the birth of the composer.

Mariusz Treliński is the artistic director of the Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera in Warsaw, with whom the National Theatre in Prague has entered into its first co-production. Treliński´s directing has already been seen in Brussels´ La Monnaie, the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, the Washington National Opera and the Los Angeles Opera. In January next year, he will make his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York with Tchaikovsky´s Jolanta and Bartók’s Bluebeard Castle under the baton of Valery Gergiev, starring Anna Netrebko.

"It all began with a meeting with Silvia Hroncová. A few years ago in Bratislava we prepared Orpheus and Eurydice and the performance was objectively very successful. I liked the collaboration, because Silvia thinks about opera in a very modern way. She´s trying to find something fresh, that goes beyond well-known convention. It's been my obsession for years. Therefore, I look for places all over the world, where I can do daring productions defying the conventions of the opera language," says Mariusz Treliński of his engagement in Prague and continues: "For some time I´ve been looking for operas that have their intellectual or philosophical dimension, which are in some sense substantial, meaningful. After years of working in opera, I have to say with little bitterness, eighty percent of librettos are very shallow stories. Simple and even primitive. Only the music really makes these works great. This is a dilemma for opera directors, who are trying to take this art seriously. We primarily come to the opera to listen to music, but also to see something that will change us, that will allow us to understand a little something about ourselves. Something, what can examine our view of the world. Salome is this type of a story. It is a myth deeply rooted in our culture."

"All productions of Mariusz Treliński have a common line – provoking with interpretation, searching, worrying, based on the stories they analyse the state and mood of society," says Silvia Hroncová, Director of the opera of the National Theatre and the State Opera. "Mariusz pays equal attention to all means of expression. It is the director, who looks for answers about the present time through the opera genre, and with this, his productions double in value: high quality music and an innovative concept of art are combined into one powerful testimony," says Silvia Hroncová.

Conductor Heiko Mathias Förster, who is the newly appointed chief conductor of the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra in Ostrava, began to the musical preparations of Salome during his September success with the concert of Dvořák´s Alfred as part of the international music festival Dvořákova Praha. He has already conducted several operas at the State Opera including the premiere of Verdi's Otello (2009), Massenet's Don Quichotte (2010) and the opera by Carl Maria von Weber The Three Pintos (2011).

Mariusz Treliński also brings to Prague his team - dramaturge Piotr Gruszczynski, designer Boris Kudlička and European renowned lighting designer Felice Ross. The title role will be portrayed by German soprano Gun-Brit Barkmin, who has already won Prague audiences over with such roles as Emilia Marty in Janacek's The Makropulos Case and Queen Elizabeth I in Britten's Gloriana. Last year at the Vienna State Opera Barkmin portrayed the title role of the opera Salome under the baton of Andris Nelsons and reprise performances in the Austrian capital are already scheduled for June next year. "The rehearsal process with Mariusz is excellent. He does not want big operatic gestures, but requires a kind of close-up. We have to imagine that there is a movie camera in front of us and we have to be constantly present in our characters. The viewer will soon notice this and will observe us performers more carefully and thoroughly," says Gun-Brit Barkmin.

It is also interesting to know that the previous Neues Deutches Theatre (now the State Opera), Richard Strauss conducted Salome himself, both the first reprise in 1906 and 16 years later for the Strauss week festivities. Another link to Czech operatic environment is the performance of Karel Burian in Dresden’s premiere in 1905 and his subsequent involvement at the premieres in Paris and New York. The Berlin staging of Salome in 1906 is linked to Ema Destinnová, who appeared in the title role, and then continued to perform the  premiere in Paris.

The following opera premiere of the National Theatre will be The New Earth by Alois Hába with musical direction by artistic director Peter Kofroň and semi-staged direction by Miroslav Bambušek.

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