Prague opera season 2015/2016 offers nine premieres and many new concerts
• Susan Bullock, Lena Belkina or Veronika Dzhioeva will be stars of the premieres • Prague operatic debuts: Adriana Kučerová, Mireille Lebel or Milena Arsovska • Gun-Brit Barkmin, Štefan Kocán, Štefan Margita and Svatopluk Sem return to the Prague stage • Opera productions directed by Dominik Beneš, Jiří Heřman or Keith Warner • Set designs created by Boris Kudlička, Kentaur or Martin Chocholoušek • The State Opera is touring Japanese theatres with Verdi's La Traviata • A concert celebrating the anniversary of The International Antonin Dvorak Singing Competition in Karlovy Vary will be broadcasted by Czech Television on 8th November 2015
The National Theatre Opera and The State Opera are preparing nine premiers for the 2015/2016 season. Compared with the now ending season, which accentuates operatic dramas, the upcoming one offers a little more joy and vigour. Many European personalities will present their work on the Prague stage for the first time - Keith Warner, Enikő Eszenyi but also Czech directors Dominik Beneš and Michal Dočekal.
The State Opera opens its new season with a title, which was heard on this stage 110 years ago - the drama of Vincenzo Bellini's Norma with Marie Fajtová in the title role. The stage director is a young Japanese artist Tomo Sugao. In addition to productions in his hometown he has had premieres in Berlin´s Komische Oper and most recently in Opernhaus Zürich. Scenography is created by Boris Kudlička, who last autumn stood at the birth of the successful production Salome by Richard Strauss at The State Opera. The story of the secret marriage of the Gallic princess Norma and Roman proconsul Pollione will be musically prepared by a regular guest of The State Opera, conductor Enrico Dovico. Premieres are planned for 2 and 4 October, 2015, and a year later it will tour in Japanese theatres.
The first opera by Igor Stravinsky The Nightingale and the last opera by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Iolanta come from very different musical worlds - Iolanta is in the spirit of romantic elegance, while the twenty years younger Nightingale already combines the charm of impressionism with roaring expressionism. These fairy tales will be retold at The National Theatre by the representative of the rising generation of opera directors Dominik Beneš, along with the renowned conductor and current musical director of The Moscow New Opera Jan Latham-Koenig. He successfully premiered five years ago in The State Opera with Tristan und Isolde and then Gluck´s Orpheus and Eurydice at The Estates Theatre. The Prague audience will enjoy, apart from local singers, also Veronika Dzhioeva, who is a regular guest at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow for the past five years, but has also performed
in St. Petersburg's Mariinsky Theater and sang the role of Iolanta already in Madrid under the baton of Teodor Currentzis. Nightingale will be an opportunity for the young Macedonian soprano
Milena Arsovska. These two works will premiere on 22 and 23 October 2015 in one evening and overall, The National Theatre will offer eight performances in the next season.
Also in the forthcoming season opera repertoire will remain at The New Stage – Březina´s Toufar, Shostakovich's Orango & Anti-Formalist Rayok and Kučera´s Red Mary. They will complement the oratorio Lost Objects by David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe of the New York group Bang on a Can, which Czech audiences experienced sixteen years ago at the Prague Spring Festival. The work will be musically staged by Petr Kofroň with the Orchestra of the National Theatre and Michael Bielicky and Kamila B. Richter will take care of the visual component. The premiere at The New Stage will take place on 17 December 2015.
The only opera premiere at The Estates Theatre, will not be Mozart's work this time, but Gioacchino Rossini´s La Cenerentola. After creating a series of Shakespearean productions (The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night) and acting in Wilson's production 1914, the opera will be directed by the master of top bel canto works Enikő Eszenyi, director of the Budapest Vígszínház. She chose to collaborate with an excellent scenographer creating under the stage name Kentaur. Musical direction will be entrusted to the young Czech conductor Jan Kučera and the title role will be performed by Ukrainian mezzo-soprano Lena Belkina, who began her international and extremely promising singing career in the Leipzig Opera six years ago, and just last week, the publishing company Sony Music Entertainment has released her debut album with bel canto repertoire. The mezzo-soprano Dorothea Spilger, prize-winner of The National Theatre at last year's Antonin Dvorak Singing Competition in Karlovy Vary, as well as performer at the January concert of Mozart's Birthday, accepted the role of Tisbe. La Cenerentola was presented at the National Theatre in only one production in 1932. Opening nights will welcome its first audiences on 21 and 22 January 2016.
A new production of one of the most prominent Czech opera directors Jiří Heřman, on the stage of the State Opera, will be Puccini's tragedy Madama Butterfly. The work will be musically prepared by the State Opera Music Director Martin Leginus, with Maria Kobielska and Christina Vasileva starring as Cio-Cio San. Chamber music and a story, revealing the smallest details, tremors and huge emotions, shows contrast between Japanese and Western mentality will be a debut for Jiří Heřman at The State Opera; at the National Theatre the audience will keep enjoying his productions of Rusalka and The Jacobin. Madama Butterfly will also be another opportunity to see the impressive costume designer Alexandra Grusková, who will celebrate fifteen years of collaboration with the National Theatre with this project. The premieres are 4 and 9 February 2016.
The work of Bohuslav Martinů will materialize at the National Theatre with the opera Juliette (The Key to Dreams), directed by Zuzana Gilhuus. Young Slovak artist living in Norway is, as a graduate of both fields, connecting directing and set design in the opera. The conductor will be Jaroslav Kyzlink, who musically prepared the last successful opera at The Estates Theatre, The Magic Flute. The role of Juliette was entrusted by artistic director Petr Kofroň to soprano´s Maria Kobielska and Alžběta Poláčková. The opera Juliette (The Key to Dreams) is closely linked to The National Theatre as its world premiere was held exactly here on March 16, 1938. Just as Ariadna in 2010, Juliette (The Key to Dreams) was composed to a libretto by the master surrealist playwright Georges Neveux.
The work is currently being enjoyed also abroad, with new productions recently staged in Zurich and Frankfurt. Prague premieres are scheduled for 24 and 25 March 2016.
Italian conductor Marco Guidarini after a superb premiere of Mephistopheles in January this year is returning to The State Opera to musically prepare the production of Gounod's Roméo et Juliette. Stage direction is by Sláva Daubnerová, who captivated the audience with two of Shostakovich´s operas Orango & Anti-Formalist Rayok at The New Stage last year. Kateřina Kněžíková and Jana Šrejma Kačírková accepted the roles of Juliette, Roméo will be sung by Aleš Briscein and Martin Šrejma. The opera tragedy about fatal affection and inevitable doom of the iconic pair of lovers from the pen of William Shakespeare will be the second French title on the current repertoire of The State Opera next to Bizet's Carmen. Gounod's Roméo et Juliette is premiering on 21 and 23 April 2016.
Current Artistic Drama Director of The National Theatre Michal Dočekal will finally debut as an opera director, when he, together with the Artistic Director of The National Theatre Opera and The State Opera Petr Kofroň, will prepare Giordano´s Andrea Chénier. Opera about a love triangle in the atmosphere of the French Revolution was first debuted at the National Theatre in 1897, only a year after its world premiere at La Scala. Even more surprising is the fact that since its first staging it has not been heard on this stage. The title role is performed by the tenors Rafael Alvarez and Mexican singer Hector Sandoval, who also portrayed the French poet in Keith Warner's production at the Bregenz Festival. The visual design will be created in participation with one of the most prominent personalities of Czech theatre Martin Chocholoušek. Premieres at the National Theatre are scheduled for 5 and 6 May 2016.
The State Opera´s farewell to the season 2015/2016 will be a magnificent event. On 10 and 12 June 2016, just weeks before the start of the inevitable general reconstruction, this scene will offer the extraordinary work Elektra of composer Richard Strauss, who has repeatedly personally conducted here in the last century. To direct this bloody drama, The National Theatre invited British director Keith Warner, signed among others below acclaimed productions of Der Ring des Nibelungen at London's Royal Opera House. Thanks to Elektra a renowned German conductor Roland Böer, who works with the opera houses in London, Milan and Vienna will enjoy his Prague debut.
"In the coming season we will offer a total of 45 opera productions on four stages, thus continuing the broad dramaturgy, attractive directing concepts and highly valuable musical quality. Each of the selected works carries a powerful message in its topic and ability to reach today's audience - from children, students, families, working age audience to an early-born audience. Creative teams of the upcoming productions were chosen with the delicate balance among our prospective domestic artists and personalities of the European theatre and opera. If in the last year we have seen a very positive response to Salome in the distinctive direction by Mariusz Treliński, we want to continue with this ambition with Keith Warner and his Elektra," says the Director of The National Theatre Opera and The State Opera Silvia Hroncová.
One of the key features of the upcoming opera season will be a focus on vocal and orchestral concerts. Besides the traditional Mozart's Birthday in January and Advent concerts with the Kühn Children's Choir's it will be the Opening concert 2015/2016 on 8 September 2015 at The National Theatre. Artistic Director and conductor Petr Kofroň chose from the musical archives several
set-aside, yet valuable and impressive orchestral works. For the 50th Anniversary of the Antonin Dvorak International Singing Competition in Karlovy Vary The National Theatre has prepared a concert, conducted by Libor Pešek on 8 November 2015. This will feature prize-winners of the prestigious Karlovy Vary competition René Pape, Adam Plachetka, Roman Janál, Kateřina Kněžíková, Joo-Anne Bitter or Nicholas Davis. The concert will be broadcasted live on ČT art. The guest of Mozart's Birthday is soprano Simona Houda-Šaturová on January 27, 2016 in The Estates Theatre. National Theatre Orchestra will be led by the charismatic German conductor Rolf Beck. Other concerts include November's Hommage à Jan Dismas Zelenka under the baton of Zdeněk Klauda together with the annual announcement of the Opera Plus Award. As a part of the Liederabend of the National Theatre Opera soloists and conductor Petr Kofroň the works of Richard Strauss, Jaroslav Křička, Ottorino Respighi, Maurice Ravel and Modest P. Mussorgsky will be sung by Dana Burešová, Michaela Kaputová, Josef Moravec, Jiri Hajek and Oleg Korotkov. It will be Dana Burešová, who will conclude the evening with Strauss´ Four last songs. Three works of the great artists of modern Czech music Leoš Janáček, Bohuslav Martinů and Otakar Ostrčil will be presented at The National Theatre under the baton of Jaroslav Kyzlink with choir and orchestra at the end of the season on 5 June, 2016.
Right at the beginning of next season on 21 August, 2015 The State Opera will welcome a new Carmen, Canadian mezzo-soprano Mireille Lebel. Gun-Brit Barkmin returns to production of Salome in autumn. The singer was nominated for Best Female Performance for the Theater Critics Award. Audience will enjoy Štefan Kocán as Mephistopheles at The State Opera and as Vodnik, the water goblin in Rusalka at the National Theatre or Efe Kişlali newly in the role of Calaf in Puccini's Turandot. Slovak singer of world renown Adriana Kučerová will portray Norina in Rossini's Barber of Seville in October. Simona Houda-Šaturová remains in the role of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at The Estates Theatre, Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto at The State Opera and Violetta in Verdi's La Traviata at The National Theatre. In the title role of Boris Godunov will again excel Russian bass Mikhail Kazakov and Vitalij Jefanov. Filka Morozov alias Luka Kuzmich in Janáček's From the House of the Dead will be again portrayed by Štefan Margita. Kateřina Kněžíková is coming back in full force to the opera stage after maternity leave.
In the upcoming new season regular guests will also be Christina Vasileva, Eva Hornyáková, Jolana Fogašová, Jana Šrejma-Kačírková, Aleš Briscein, Svatopluk Sem or Martin Bárta. Conductor Zbyněk Müller will return to The State Opera, he will lead operas Rusalka and Carmen. Czech Television apart from the aforementioned November concert will also recorded the chamber opera by Aleš Březina Toufar with Soňa Červená in the lead role. The National Theatre continues with the artistic-educational project Opera is Fun, which only last year attracted over four thousand children and parents.