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.
Luboš Javůrek's Bokorama has never belonged to the absolute best of our folk scene but it has long maintained a position of a solid band whose melodic songs have the potential to reach a wide audience. More than a band, Bokomara is a trademark that covers various Javůrek projects – ranging from the singer-songwriter duo with Petra Šanclová to – today already traditional – the joint concert programme with Naďa Urbánková.
A trio of concerts with the same programme as performed by Czech Virtuosi in early September in monasteries in Vranov, at the Grohova Street in Brno and in Doubravník can be considered as much a final goodbye to a beautiful holiday (a visit to the church delicately set into a beautiful landscape is in itself one of the noblest tourist experiences) as a step into the new concert season. Let's remind ourselves that the Brno ensemble with the difficult English-Italian name has been filling the space between large orchestras and chamber ensembles since its founding in 1998 in more than just the Brno concert life - so far they have performed a third of their concerts abroad. And they do so at a high level: its members are top players from the Philharmonic Orchestra and the Opera Orchestra, led by the concert master Pavel Wallinger from his stand.
Saturday night completed the 17th Špilberk International Music Festival with an original attempt at a dialogue between the jazz band Robert Balzar Trio with the exceptionally talented singer Dan Bárta and symphonists of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra. The final, fifth concert of the festival in the crowded courtyard of the Brno castle provided a dignified end to the August series of musical evenings with live and recorded music, offering a varied mix of different musical genres.
One of the reasons for founding Dragoun's band Futurum in 1983 was allegedly a desire to do "short songs" at a time when Progres focused on broad zones. The fact that the nearly 10-minute song Zdroj then became one of the biggest hits of Futurum is a different story. The founder of Futurum, Roman Dragoun, has remained faithful to shorter songs even in his solo career – from the comeback album Stín mý krvez from 1995 to the present.
On the eve of St. Nicholas Day, the Janacek Opera brought the second of the four major premieres of this season to the Janacek Theatre - Smetana's "simple traditional" opera The Kiss (Hubička). After Jenůfa from the beginning of October, this opera closes the premiere offer of the traditional Czech opera for this season; what is more important, however, is that it opens a four-part show of new works by the greatest talents of the rising generation of Czech opera direction.
Wise guys, who are versed in every situation, and who know how to fish in turbid waters and come out every time with a profit, are not the only aspect of the Great French Revolution. The Ensemble Opera Diversa held the premiere of a new opera by Miloš Štědroň yesterday which, despite the initial lack of clarity, eventually turned out to be an ironic celebration of political cunning, espionage and managerial skills in dealing with human material.
Memory? Honour? Its revival? The best answer to the question of what Dunajská vlna actually is, is the first four bars of their debut album, Jednou. First they were joined by older colleagues Vladimír Václavek and Josef Ostřanský; now the space is reigned over by a young drummer Michaela Antalová. New blood, new energy and a promise that Dunajská vlna is not, and will not be, a mere copy of the legendary Dunaj.
The audience treated the vocal recital of Adam Plachetka as a major event. They were led to it immediately by the care provided by the organisers who kindly attended to the concert-goers right in the doorway of the Besední dům concert hall. Adam Plachetka has a reputation as an outstanding singer and he lived up to it in many respects, even though it took him the entire first half of the concert to relax.
In the premises of the neo-Gothic Czech Brethren Evangelical Church of J. A. Comenius, on the fifth evening of the Moravian Autumn festival, a performance of sacred music for choir and organ took place. In addition to the choir of the same name, Martinů Voices was also dominated by the organist Linda Sítková and a four-member ensemble of French horns. All this under the direction of choirmaster Lukáš Vasilek.
The third event of this year's Moravian Autumn festival was transferred to a theatre stage. The event was made happen by Terén, which is a platform acting as a third stage of the Centre of Experimental Theatre, right after the Goose on a String and HaDivadlo theatres. And it was on this particular stage of the Goose on a String where the world premiere of a stage production of Oedipus by André Gide took place yesterday. Composer Bohuslav Martinů stands behind its equally important incidental music.
The jubilee 50th Moravian Autumn music festival started yesterday at Bobycentrum in Brno with a concert performance of the minimalist opera Einstein on the Beach by composer Philip Glass and director Robert Wilson. The concert version was created by collaboration of visual artist Germaine Kruip, Suzanne Vega and Ictus Ensemble and Collegium Vocale Gent. Although only the music remained from the previously stage show, the length of the concert itself was comparable with the opera work. Hence, the evening lasted almost four hours.
The National Theatre Brno started its new season yesterday by staging The Tales of Hoffmann, an opéra fantastique by French composer Jacques Offenbach with French libretto written by poet Jules Barbier. Directing was undertaken by the recognized artistic tandem SKUTR, consisting of Martin Kukučka and Lukáš Trpišovský. The title role was presented by Luciano Mastro, his faithful companion Nicklausse (and also the figure of the Muse at the end of the show) was performed by Markéta Cukrová. The roles of Hoffmann's sweethearts Olympia, Antonia, Giulietta and Stella have were performed by Martina Masaryková, Pavla Vykopalová, Daniela Straková-Šedrlová and Andrea Široká. The character of Hoffmann's eternal rival (Lindorf/Coppélius/Miracle/ Dappertutto) was interpreted by Ondrej Mráz. The orchestra was led by Ondrej Olos, the choir by Klára Složilová Roztočilová.
The Brno Philharmonic launched its 64th season yesterday, which is also the second season of its current Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Dennis Russell Davies. Beside him, the leading Russian pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja also stood on the stage of the Brno Stadium. Brahms' Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 3 in E major and the Czech premiere of the composition DA.MA.SHI.E by the Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi's, connected with animated films of director Hayao Miyazaki, were chosen for the ceremonial start.
The fourteenth season of the Subscription Concert Cycle was launched yesterday evening by the Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno with captivating music. A jubilant, almost festive programme was played in the Besední dům, following a performance at the St. Wenceslas Music Festival in Ostrava the previous evening. However, there were faithful and long-time spectators in Brno without whom the entire cycle would lose its meaning.
Yesterday evening at the piazzetta of the Janáček Theatre was marked by a concert to commence the 2019/2020 season of the National Theatre Brno (NdB). Promotion of the event ensured the most important thing for this music evening – hundreds of spectators who filled up the whole place. We should not forget the really wide age range, which is so much needed for future culture, especially at its lower limit (still in strollers).
Only rarely one single song is the main topic for an interview. In the case of the cellist Josef Klíč, the concert master of the National Theatre in Brno, this was offered. It does not happen every day that a Czech composer and his song reach the finals of a worldwide competition. However, there were more reasons for our talk – memories of the late Jaroslav Erik Frič, Josef's contract at the Janáček Theatre and the upcoming new album.
For the opening concert of the 20th anniversary season of the Špilberk Festival yesterday, the Brno Philharmonic chose a dramaturgy consisting of proven as well as lesser-known pieces. The subtitle Romantic Carnival immersed all evening in the carnival spirit associated with celebrations before the carnival opening. The aim of the programme was to characterize the period of merriment, celebrations and masks by compositions that tell with their mood about this period of the year. The almost full-up castle courtyard had the opportunity to enjoy an unpretentious and appealing programme, which also with its lower temperature more easily approached that cold carnival period.
As a UNESCO-listed city of music, Brno has had four festival days full of music and dance. Tens of concerts and performances with hundreds of performers took place at twenty-two music venues. Music in the streets sounded on every corner, but most attention this year was attracted by four rooms by the artist Kateřina Šedá, in which artists of different genres and nationalities took turns. Another attraction was the performances of the British Motionhouse and No Fit State Circus, who repeatedly enchanted the Náměstí Svobody Square with their acrobatic pieces and breathtaking performances. Two large stages were also set up – Dominik Stage on Dominikánské Square and Django Stage on Malinovského Square, on which appeared artists such as Jana Kirschner, Monika Bagárová, minus123minutes or Jan P. Muchow & The Antagonists. Traditionally, the festival was accompanied by the sound of barrel organs whose players met in Brno as part of their 10th international meeting. This year, singer and multi-instrumentalist Tinatin Tsereteli (Hannover) and violinist Nicola Manzan (Bologna) as artists from UNESCO partner cities of music also premiered at the Brno Music Marathon. The atmosphere of the festival is captured in the video below.
Folkové prázdniny [Folk Holidays] in Náměšť nad Oslavou is a festival standing out with its dramaturgy, structure and atmosphere. Every season has its own theme, every evening has its own theme, and even some individual performances have their own themes. The long-time programme director Michal Schmidt managed this year to excellently balance Czech premiéres and truly extraordinary projects with reappearances and sure bets. This year's theme of Folkové prázdniny was About the Soul; however, this week-long event has its soul every year.
The group Nebeztebe (a pun containing both "Not without You" and "Heaven from You) literally shone in the Brno scene a few years ago. The five-member line-up, with its marked rhythms, seemingly above styles, celebrated victory at Porta and headed for the giant multi-genre festivals. Under bandleader Štěpán Hulc seemingly the band went to sleep and only returned this year with a brand new, three-member line-up. The new Nebeztebe is made up of guitar, violin and mandolin and has not given up on taking a multi-genre approach. Once more they are giving concerts and are coming out with the concept album Zásobování duše (which might be translated as Supplying the Soul).
One of the musicians who will appear at Folkové prázdniny [Folk Holidays] in Náměšť nad Oslavou as part of a special programme called Harfy nad Oslavou [Harps upon Oslava], is the Colombian harpist Edmar Castañeda. In Náměšť, he will also give a solo recital as part of an evening called O duši s lehkostí i naléhavostí [About Soul with Lightness and Urgency]. In our telephone conversation – we called him to New York where he lives – we talked to Edmar Castañeda, for example, about a harp specially constructed according to his requirements, or about his cooperation with the Czech singer Marta Töpferová.
The Olomouc Baroque Festival has begun. In the local Jesuit Convent the seventh year of the festival opened with the modern premiere of the serenata Il tribunale di Giove by the Austrian composer Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf. The work was first performed at the birthday celebrations for the Prussian King Frederick the Great on 27 January 1775 and after a repeat in Wroclaw in 1777 it fell into oblivion. The Ensemble Damian decided to reverse this unfortunate fate, and led by the ensemble’s artistic director and director Tomáš Hanzlík they attempted to revive the work. Appearing in the solo roles were Leandro Lafont (Fate and Apollo), Kristýna Vylíčilová (the Genius of Europe and Minerva), Lucie Kaňková (Time and Fortune), Monika Jägerová (Jupiter) and Jakub Rousek (Mars). The costumes and backdrops were designed by the director Hanzlík.
The musical Mamma Mia!, which has achieved great success on world stages including Broadway, is heading to Brno. MdB will introduce it under the direction of Petr Gazdík. Donna will be performed by Alena Antalová, Markéta Sedláčková or Ivana Vaňková. Furthermore, Dagmar Křížová, Barbora Remišová or Petra Šimberová. Men's roles will be represented by Martin Havelka, Igor Ondříček or Viktor Skála and many others.
The 23rd Plus 2019 New Music Meeting international music festival is dedicated to contemporary acoustic and electronic music and multimedia projects. This season will be opened by an expert in the interpretation of contemporary music – the Belgian pianist Daan Vandewalle. The festival programme also features a gala concert to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Gideon Klein or the Czech premiere of the Force Field multimedia project. The festival is organized by the Music Faculty of JAMU.
Ensemble Opera Diversa is preparing a joint concert with flute player Michaela Koudelková. Works by the authors of the 20th century will be played and the premiere will take place of the composition Quasi lontano, which the ensemble commissioned from Petra Čtveráčková. The concert will take place at the Convent of Merciful Brothers in Brno under the baton of Gabriela Tardonová.
Concerts in the new season 2019/2020 are promising a varied range of genres. For example, Vlasta Redl, who will start the season, will perform as part of the musical evenings at the Brno National Theater. He will be followed by Vladimír Mišík & ETC, Věra Martinová, Anna K., Petr Bende, Bára Zmeková and many others.
Fifteen years ago, the second theater building of the Brno City Theater was opened with ceremonial premieres of the musical Hair. The ensemble had been involved in musical production already since the nineteen-nineties, but at times it bounced the walls of the technical shortcomings of the building. The foundation stones arrived to Brno from Dolní Věstonice and from Broadway, NYC, and were laid on 17 November 2001. The theater is preparing to celebrate the anniversary with two major concerts that will commemorate all the productions presented so far. The celebratory programme is being created under the direction of Igor Ondříček. The progamme will feature stars such as Dušan Vitázek, Markéta Sedláčková, Jana Musilová, Petr Štěpán, Viktória Matušovová, Petr Gazdík and others. The Brno City Theater Orchestra will be conducted by Dan Kalousek.
The premiere of a new programme called Step by Step is dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the military artistic ensemble VUS Ondráš. The programme is inspired by folklore material of Czech, Moravian and Slovak regions. The plot is the story of man from his first precarious steps, through the peak period of vitality, to the stage where his steps lose confidence. Year after year, all of his life. Alžběta Burianová took on the direction. The musical accompaniment was created by Jiří Slavík.