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Opera The New Stage

Toufar

Aleš Březina, stage director Petr Zelenka

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Libretto: Aleš Březina
Conductor: Jiří Štrunc
Stage director: Petr Zelenka
Sets: Nikola Tempír
Costumes: Vladimíra Fomínová
Motion cooperation: Klára Lidová
Chorus master of the Kühn's Children's Choir: Petr Louženský
Dramaturgy: Pavel Petráněk

World premiere: September 18 and 19, 2013

Kühn Children's Choir

1) Marie Šimůnková / Kateřina Zikmundová

2) Klára Nohalová / Eliška Soukupová

3) Gajane Achverdjanová / Markéta Houšková / Tereza Lázňovská

4) Dominika Schovánková / Karolína Motýlová

5) Amálie Koppová / Barbora Cimerová



Orchestra:

Bass clarinet: Petr Valášek / Jiří Šindelář

Violin: Lucie Sedláková Hůlová

Keyboards: Jan Dušek / Stanislav Gallin

Percussions: Tomáš Koubek



History is replete with martyrs whose death was subsequently made use of for various purposes. One of the most blatant victims of modern Czech history was the priest Josef Toufar.

On 25 February 1950, precisely two years after the Communist coup, celebrated until 1989 as the day of “Victory of the Czechoslovak Working People“, Toufar died in a state sanatorium in Prague of the consequences of weeks-long torture. The pretext for his arrest on 28 January 1950 was the rumour of a miracle, reported by parishioners from the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in the village of Číhošť. They claimed that during a mass on 11 December 1949 (and again two weeks later) the cross behind the priest’s back had moved repeatedly. The Communist National Security Police immediately made use of this still unexplained phenomenon to launch a campaign against the Church, which represented one of its strongest opponents. Toufar was first denounced for deceit (accused of using a suspender belt or car windscreen wiper to move the cross), later on for “homosexuality“ and paedophilia (children were forced to give false statements by the prosecutor Ludmila Brožová Polednová, today known above all for the role she played in the show trial and judicial murder of the politician Milada Horáková). The Secret Police produced a trumped-up documentary titled “Woe betide those who cause offence”, in which Toufar was supposed to appear. However, since the priest had died during the filming (and was buried under a different name in a mass grave), he was replaced by a stand-in. On the other hand, the Catholic Church appointed a “miracle committee” whose aim it was to canonise Toufar. These antipodes demarcate the battleground on which the endeavour to interpret the “Číhošť miracle” takes place.

Just like Březina’s first highly acclaimed opera, Tomorrow There Will Be…, the documentary chamber opera Toufar too is based on period printed, audio and visual documents. The lead roles will be portrayed by Soňa Červená, Jan Mikušek and Vladimír Javorský.

In co-production with the International Theatre Festival Divadelna Nitra, in the framework of the project "Parallel Lives - 20th Century through the Eyes of Secret Police.

www.parallel-lives.eu

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Aleš Březina
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Aleš Březina
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