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Shostakovich's operas Anti-Formalist Rayok and sci-fi Orango expands the repertoire of the New Stage

14. 12. 2014

National Theatre fulfils its promise to viewers and opens up the New stage to operas as well. After transfering Březina's Toufar, the National Theater now presents the premiere of two operas by Dmjitrij Shostakovich Orango and Anti-Formalist Rayok on December 17, 2014.

"After The New Earth by Alois Hába, which celebrates the Soviet collectivization, this is a possible counterweight in the form of a critical perspective on the cultural policy of the Soviet Union under Stalin. In general dramaturgically: staging of the newly discovered works of the greats, " explains the reason for the inclusion Shostakovich works in the repertoire of the National Theatre of Opera artistic director Petr Kofroň. Dates of further performances of Orango and Anti-Formalist Rayok are December 28, 2014, the 6th and 7th January 2015.

Prague is only the fourth city where the unfinished opera Orango composed in 1932 for the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow on the 15th anniversary of the October Revolution can be heard and in the original version, without the subsequent orchestration. The libretto in the genre of sci-fi tells the story of a pseudoscientific experiment, which aims to humanize an ape. A manuscript fragment of the score was only discovered in 2004. "The message of this opera is contained in a situation, where a half human –half ape starts to aggressively threaten people. One of the characters reacts as follows to the demand for shooting him: 'Reasons for using weapons are undeniable, but it is an outdated method of resolution dispute. I suggest disarmament on land, at sea and in the air. I suggest other means: music! ' This is followed by silent Allegretto, which calms down Orango. Beautiful, right?" says conductor Jan Kučera, who musicaly prepared the works at the New stage.

Anti-Formalist Rayok for four male voices is a grotesque protest against the government of fools and has been performed several times in the Czech Republic. Here Shostakovich mocks people such as Stalin or the dreaded advocate of socialist realism Andrei Zhdanov. "There is probably no need to explain, why there was written that the words and music are by an unknown author on the front page of the opera. Some of it was probably created in 1948, but was completed only in 1957. During Stalin's life, of course, it was out of the question for anyone to know that such a thing existed, the consequences would be undoubtedly fatal for Shostakovich, " says conductor Jan Kučera.

"Staging these two works of Shostakovich is an extraordinary event exceeding the boarders Czech Republic. Combining Orango with Anti-Formalist Rayok in the same evening was a great idea and a complete gem from production team," says director Sláva Daubnerová and continues:  "The theme of an artist, who is trying to work in a totalitarian regime, is still very much alive for me.

Shostakovich commented on current topics and it impresses me that he did not produce  art separated from his time. He was not a snob. As the most stimulating I consider the fact, that Orango is incomplete and as for Anti-Formalistic Rayok its timelessness. Generally speaking, I fell in love with Shostakovich's humour."

The following opera premiere of the National Theatre is Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito at the State Opera (22 and 24 January 2015).