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From the House of the Dead, an opera debut for Daniel Špinar


After Fibich´s The Fall of Arkun the National Theatre presents another extraordinary opera by a Czech composer. From the House of the Dead will become the third title by Leoš Janáček on the opera repertoire. After the Cunning Little Vixen the music direction is again prepared by Robert Jindra and directed as a debut for the most prominent personality of Czech drama theater and newly appointed artistic director of the drama ensemble of National Theatre Daniel Špinar. The role of Luka Kuzmich will be portrayed by world-renown tenor Štefan Margita. An extraordinary opera, a proud gem of European and international opera houses presented at the National Theatre after twenty-four years will premiere on May 14 and 16, 2015.

"The last opera by Leoš Janáček From the House of the Dead is a culmination of his efforts to create a totally natural theatrical drama. It is a work that stands out even in the context of his other operas. There is no hero, yet there are lots of emotions and passions, which are bestowed upon the viewers by the characters closed in a rough world. From the first notes an imbalance, togetherness, anxiety, but also the desire for freedom is obvious," says conductor Robert Jindra, who musically prepared the opera with the National Theatre Orchestra. "In any case, it is exceptionally demanding work that brings considerable interpretive and technical pitfalls, especially for the orchestra. It´s a difficult task also for singers who, along rhythmically challenging parts have an unusual task - to replace the theatre scene and storyline with simply sung words. The music of this opera sounds very harrowing and modern mainly due to the numerous harsh sounding dissonance, raw instrumentation and torn rhythm. Nevertheless, I believe that not only Janáček's genius music, powerful life stories of the characters, vocal performances will appeal to the audience, but also the very inspiring directorial interpretation," says conductor Robert Jindra.

The new production of Janáček´s opera will be only the second directorial debut for Daniel Špinar in the historical building of the National Theatre after the production of Pictures from the Insects' Life. "When Artistic Director of the Opera Petr Kofroň offered me this opportunity, I was very pleased. True, until then I only marginally knew the opera, mainly its prelude, however Janáček is among my favourite composers," says director Daniel Špinar and continues: "I was then literally absorbed by the theme of the opera. I wanted to direct an opera for a long time, several years ago an offer came from the The National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava to direct Gounod's Romeo and Juliet, which was closer to me more thematically than musically. However in the end the collaboration didn´t work out. But everything in life happens as it should – I´m beginning with Janáček, an opera in Czech, not very long and one that has a strong theme, which I harmonize with." Among Špinar´s most striking previous productions is among others Georg Büchner's Woyzeck, which earned the Vinohrady Theater an Alfred Radok Award for the year 2009.

The production From the House of the Dead will feature, among others Pavol Remenár, Josef Moravec, Jiří Brückler, Michal Bragagnolo, František Zahradníček, Jevhen Šokalo and in the role of Luka Kuzmich Štefan Margita. For him, this role is almost emblematic, he portayed Kuzmich in Vienna, Berlin, Milan or New York. "For ten years I've not been part of a new production at the National Theatre and for that I was very excited to be in Prague – it is an honour for me. Now I´m returning with a familiar role, with which I actually travelled around the world. I can frankly say that I look forward to the interpretation by Daniel Špinar. It's real theatre," promises Štefan Margita.

The following the premiere of the National Theatre is a coproduction of a new opera by Jan Klusák Philoctetes, which will be presented at the International Music Festival Prague Spring in Prague only once May 23, 2015.