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Orff´s operas: suitable even for the unexperienced ears


The National Theatre Opera prepared two opera specialities for its audience that can be seen and heard during one evening: the two one-act fairytale operas Die Kluge and Der Mond by Carl Orff, globally known for the famous cantata Carmina Burana. These operas premiere on 20 and 21 October 2016 under the baton of Zbyněk Müller and the director will be Jiří Nekvasil.

Both operas retell in the form of entertainment and epic folk theatre the respective fairytales of the Grimm brothers. Die Kluge (The Wise Girl) is about a poor but shrewd peasant girl who can answer any riddle, outwits the three swindlers and even wins the love of the king. Der Mond (The Moon)  is a story about foolish people who steal the Moon for themeselves until Peter, the guard of heaven retrieves it and hangs it in the sky, out of reach of their meddlesome hands.

„Orff´s intention was to entertain and educate in a noble way, particularly the more adult audience. The composer found the operatic form that can captivate audiences of the late 20th century, "says conductor Zbyněk Müller and continues: “The combination of an innocent child's world with the corruption of the adult world seems really attractive and original. This contrast certainly highlights one of the small messages that we can find in this piece. "

"Tales of the Brothers Grimm are quite excentric in comparison with the traditional ones. They often do not contain any specific point but the plot sometimes even does not have the happy ending. Usually it is rather bizarre narration with a variety of metaphors familiar with certain truths. It is obvious even in Orff's opera Der Mond that is called the “theatrum mundi”. He intentionally uses all sorts of magic-fantastic speeches to enable a deeper understanding of things around us. Die Kluge is far more direct. It represents essentially conversational tale without magic, which is about vanity and smarts, "says director Jiří Nekvasil who returns along with stage designer Daniel Dvořák to the National Theatre after three years. Their latest common work here was Smetana's opera The Two Widows.


The second conductor besides Zbyněk Müller is Nikol Kraft - a student of conducting at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts. She participates in the preparation of new productions as the first-ever female conductor who is going to lead the performances with the Orchestra of the National Theatre.

“The extreme characters in Die Kluge or a variety of situations and fantastic scenes of Der Mond are reflected in the sharp contrasts and musical diversity  - we can hear alternating references to the influences of medieval popular Bavarian folk music and utilization of fabulous sound effects in vocal and instrumental parts, the sound of the wind and thunder included. Both Orff's opera are original and revitalizing items of the world opera repertoire of the 20th century, "says Nikol Kraft.

The strange thing is that in both operas the female character is featured only once: Die Kluge, sung by Jana Sibera alternated by Olga Jelínková. Among other soloists you will hear Roman Janál, Svatopluk Sem, Zdeněk Plech, František Zahradníček, Josef Moravec, Jaroslav Březina, Jiří Hájek and many others.

"The work as a whole is more than extraordinary: Orff´s musical language, the Czech translation of the German text, directorial concept and costumes and set design. I would send those, who have never been to the opera, to see exactly these Orff´s operas. You will be in a very positive state of shock that opera can be also witty, original and musically catchy even for unexperienced ears,” Olga Jelínková explains.

The next opera premiere will be the video-opera Three Tales by contemporary American composer Steve Reich and by videoartist Beryl Korot. Its venue will be the New Stage of the National Theatre on 3 December 2016.