The New Earth – an opera about famine in the Ukraine - will be heard only once
After 78 years, Alois Hába´s opera The New Earth will finally have its premiere. In spite of the considerable efforts of this pioneer of micro-interval music in the late 1930´s, the staging of this opera was never completed. But on December 12, 2014, it can be heard for first time ever under the musical direction of Artistic Director of the Opera Petra Kofroň. The National Theatre will present this semi-staged opera for only one performance as a contribution to the Year of Czech music.
The New Earth is unlike Hába´s earlier operatic work, The Mother, composed "in a standard way" - in semitones. The libretto by Ferdinand Pujman was based on the Russian short story, written by Fyodor Gladkov after his visit to the Avangard commune in Ukraine in 1928. It was the libretto that created complications during the preparation of the public performance of the opera. Initially, there were doubts about the suitability of the defence of the collectivization of agriculture in Ukraine as well as the musical quotations of the building International and after World War II the open description of famine in Ukraine with millions of victims.
"Hába was always a little off. With his quartertones, his constructivism, his lack of themes and his relationship to socialism – this was suspicious to all regimes," says conductor and Music Director of the Opera Petr Kofroň. "Finally, celebrating the ´new man´ in the Soviet Union with an opening scene of Soviet famine and cannibalism is really inconsistent with the teachings of Lenin, Stalin and Klement Gottwald," adds Petr Kofroň. His latest musical productions at the National Theatre Opera include Philip Glass´s chamber opera Les enfants terribles in 2011 and Michael Nyman's opera Man and Boy: Dada presented at the Estates Theatre for the first time ten years ago.
The only performance of The New Earth will carry a semi-staged character, directed by Miroslav Bambušek. "We will try to mediate a topic that is somewhat suppressed in the opera, thus relating the famine in Ukraine in 1933, which was caused by the policy of collectivization of the former USSR. In its libretto, the opera says the opposite, namely, that collectivization in the 30´s saved Ukraine from famine!", says Miroslav Bambušek. "The opening scene of the production paints the picture of a plane that was shot down over the Ukraine and only six tourists have been rescued. Today, they live what people experienced in Ukraine during the time of the great famine in 1933. Unfortunately, history repeats itself!" adds the director.
Hába´s earlier opera The Mother premiered at the Grand Opera on May 5 (today's State Opera) in 1947, at the time, when the composer was also the Director of the organisation.
The National Theatre´s next opera premieres will include the two works by Dmitrij Shostakovich Orango and Anti-formalist Rayok. The premieres will have the musical direction of Jan Kučera and will be directed by Sláva Daubnerová. The premiere will take place on December 17, 2014 at the New Stage.