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The combination of modern jazz with tramp songs is insane at first glance or – as Vilém Spilka likes to say – a piece with a "Cimrman element". In reality, however, Spilka's new album Podvod (Deception) with adaptations of Honza Nedvěd's songs is a surprising but, in terms of musical tradition, a perfectly understandable project.
Nearly sixty students of the Faculty of Music at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts joined forces to launch two operas in their home-based Orlí Street Theatre. The evening belonged to a pair of chamber operas. The first one was the premiere of the short opera Mistrová, aneb Když bolševici zrušili Vánoce (Forewomen aka When the Bolsheviks Cancelled Christmas) by Petr Hala. And the opera The Little Prince by Miroslav Hába was performed for the first time after nearly forty years.
The music career of the violinist and singer Jitka Šuranská resembles a spiral motion. More than ten years ago, she chose cooperation in a duo with Jiří Plocek over dulcimer music, in which she was a regular member. After that, she played folk songs alone with a looper, and her first solo album Nězachoď slunečko was truly a solo album but with many guests. And now she is releasing another record. However, this time as a member of a new band, a very compact and bright sounding trio. By the way, the fact that the word TRIO is on the album cover – unlike the names of the band members – in capitals stresses that it is truly a band album and not a solo one. And in this lies both the greatest strength as well as some minor weaknesses of the recording.
The new family comedy Jak jsem se ztratil aneb Malá vánoční povídka (How I Got Lost or a Little Christmas Story) bets on more than just a music flashback to the sweet early 1960s. The Brno National Theatre has been playing it since its weekend premiere. A seven-member band directly on stage forms the audio and narrative backdrop to the sentimental journey back in time. Older folks will emotionally reflect on the sweet "sixties", while those younger will discover this decade. And that is what the new production of director Martin Františák bets on.
Soprano Maida Hundeling, who debuted, for example, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York last season, returned to the Janáček Opera after a year. The singer known from leading opera houses around the world will perform in Brno again in the role of Tosca in Puccini's opera of the same name. The production of the local artistic director Jiří Heřman already impressed during its premiere. The director based his concept on the connection between the story of the singer Tosca in the environment of the complicated political situation in the Roman Republic in 1800 and the story of one of its extraordinary performers in the second half of the last century – opera superstar Maria Callas. As the critics wrote, it is a theatrically impressive and inspiring interconnection between the fates of the two women, adored opera divas, who were in love in politically complicated times that swallowed them whole. Mainly Maida Hundeling excelled in the main roles of this Brno production.
The Vilém Spilka Quartet included surprising material in their new album Podvod. The band, headed by the director and dramaturgist of the JazzFest Brno Festival, recorded instrumental jazz arrangements of songs Hejna včel, Tulácký ráno, Na kameni kámen, Stánky and other campfire hit songs by Jan Nedvěd. He had a chance to listen to the recording shortly after its completion and we spoke to Vilém Spilka about Nedvěd’s reaction. And the interview, of course, also covered Porta, sausages and a campfire pot.
It is like the state budget: It can be considered the budget of any new government only two years after its election. This applies in all aspects, starting from the perspective of an idea and ending with the purely practical, i.e. technical, promotional and organisational perspective. Two years ago, the Janáček Brno Festival was the proverbial tipping point. The new director of the organiser Brno National Theatre had only been in office for a year and the opera director Jiří Heřman for six months. A lot of change was going on at Brno City Hall (which remains the only major benefactor of large music and theatre institutions; it seems like this does not concern the regions and the state) and the existing dramaturgical nature of the event was dismantled after the festival. After two years, the concert series can be seen as a series of alternating successes, however, with some worrying symptoms of amateurism.
The musical scene of the Brno City Theatre stages the musical comedy Lemonade Joe. Therefore, one of the most popular post-war heroes, who has been criss-crossing the Czech stages since 1944, returned to the local main stage last weekend. He became immortal in 1964 thanks to a brilliant film, a replica of which cannot be expected this time though. First of all, the theatre version contains many more songs, but the screenplay is different from the extraordinary celluloid version in some moments and in the final result. The new production directed by Petr Gazdík turned the well-known title into a wild narrative musical show that does not claim to be related to the famous film. On the contrary, thanks to its original humour and the method of its use, the new production tries to break through all the widely popular quotes to its own and legitimate version.