The buildings of the Brno spa on Rašínova street were filled on Sunday with the new project of the Hausopera art society, which has the target of bringing new and quality productions to places in daily use that wouldn’t have much to do with music and especially opera otherwise. The forerunner is the short opera Poslední pólo (“The Final Polo”) by the composer - conductor Marek Ivanović and the librettist – opera singer Josef Škarka about two friends, a secret love and a guilty conscience. The work was directed by Petr Hašek, the stage set was designed by Ján Tereba and the lighting design was made by Pavla Beranová, Michal Hór and Zuzana Bottová. The main characters were played by Tomáš Krejčí, Aleš Procházka and Andrea Široká. The accordion was played by Žaneta Vítová, the vibraphone and drums by Kristýna Švihálková. It was presented by Lenka Sedláčková.
Site-specific cultural events are currently very much in fashion. The Hausopera society project proves that it doesn’t have to just be about a humble settlement with a communist past. Josef Škarka’s story about two friends, who go for a swim, a talk and to play a bit of water polo, is a representation of civil life without any added opera stylisation. The rough language and topics of conversation work in the otherwise unusual space certainly more naturally than anywhere else, which is what the creators actually intended. The swimming pool thus truly comes to life in a new light, while at the same time keeping the credibility of the thematic setting. As the story develops, so does the number of theatrical elements, changing the realistic discussion of two swimmers into a unique cultural experience that uses the space of the hall brilliantly. The lighting design by Pavla Beranové, Michal Hór and Zuzana Bottová can take a large amount of the credit for this – all kinds of lamps lighting the pool, small point flashlights attached to the fingers of the artistic swimmers and disco balls throwing star-like glints – all serving to change the otherwise traditional swimming space into a secretive, almost mysterious place. Though it couldn’t work without the direction of Petr Hašek, who worked delicately with these elements and managed to ration them so as to get their maximum artistic value. From the point of choreography, the synchronised swimmers under the Brno champion Alžběta Dufková were the most vibrant, accompanying the main story on the “podium” and giving the resulting performance a truly magical feel. As we are used to mostly traditional ballet in our region, the water show by the girls was a new and yet completely natural element in the given space.
Although the aforementioned aspects are important with a musical drama, the most important is of course the music. For the opera Poslední polo, the music was composed by Marko Ivanović, known to the audience as a very versatile conductor. The wet space of the swimming pool does not favour musical instruments, so he chose a combination of just two instruments, which stay in tune even in these unfavourable conditions and together form a unity of sound while still offering a wide spectrum of expression. Ivanović spiced up the combination of vibraphone and accordion with drums and even added tapping on the pool’s railings for example.
The singers Tomáš Krejčí and Aleš Procházka filled their roles with honour, intonating well, even trying to sing over the splashing of the water as best they could. Andrea Široká as Anežka, the woman who involuntarily became the object of the row between the two friends, presented herself with a powerful vocal performance with a distinctive decoration to each tone, though some of the delicate nuances were lost in the swirling water. But to punish the opera Poslední pólo for imperfect acoustics would not only be short-sighted, but also completely unfair. There was no acoustic treat to be expected and I don’t believe it would be a problem for anyone with an opera drafted in this way.
Poslední pólo is a savoury treat that lovers of unusual artistic projects shouldn’t miss under any circumstances. The creative use of the space, the good directing going hand in hand with the amazing lighting design, the colourful and delicate music – all of it connected by a believable story from the life of two friends who went to play some water polo and have a chat. Site specific in the best sense of the word!
Music: Marko Ivanović
Libretto: Josef Škarka
Director: Petr Hašek
Staging: Ján Tereba
Lighting design: Pavla Beranová, Michal Hór, Zuzana Bottová
Anežka: Andrea Široká
Jožan, orchardman: Tomáš Krejčí
Fanda, paver: Aleš Procházka
Vibraphone and drums: Kristýna Švihálková
Accordion: Žaneta Vítová
Lecturer: Lenka Sedláčková