The Last Polo: the first Czech site-specific opera

20 August 2018, 1:00
The Last Polo: the first Czech site-specific opera

Hausopera is a society of enthusiasts that prepares tailor-made opera shows for various Brno hidden corners. In the opening season, it invites the audience to the pool of the spa in Rašínova Street, where it will perform a single-act opera named The Last Polo. The music, written by Marko Ivanović, will swarm with graceful motions of synchronised swimmers; the nostalgic libretto of the piece was written by Josef Škarka and will be rendered by opera vocalists singing in swimsuits, confirming thus that the first love is never to be forgotten. Through a musical story, visitors will experience the well-known venue  in a new context.

The pilot opera The Last Polo will be produced in three consecutive shows at the pool of the spa in Rašínova Street in September and October 2018. Marko Ivanović, composer and chief conductor of Janáček Opera, composed the piece on the libretto by Josef Škarka. The production was created by director Petr Hašek, artistic director of the Geisslers Hofcomoedianten theatrical company. An integral part of the production will be a performance by the Olympic champion in synchronized swimming Alžběta Dufková and her team of synchronized swimmers.

Marko Ivanović gives a brief description of his creative intention: "Working on this opera, which is meant  for a particular venue, gave me much more creative freedom than it might seem. I visited the spa several times and let myself be inspired by its atmosphere. I even integrated in the score some music to be played on the handrails that are around the perimeter of the entire pool. In the choice of musical instruments I also had to take into account the specific acoustic properties of the place and the high air humidity. "

The ambition of the Hausopera society is to introduce new chamber operas tailor-composed to various locations of the city of Brno, which are remarkable for their architecture, their stories or genius loci. This brings to life site-specific projects inseparably linked to specific sites. Site-specific opera does  not have a tradition in the Czech Republic, hence in the context of our region it is a completely new genre. Hausopera refers to the tradition of progressive dramaturgy of Janáček Opera as well as Miloslav Ištvan, Josef Berg and other great spirits of the Brno’s Art Moderne. Its inspiration includes collective works by Brno composers (Piňos – Štědroň – Medek, etc.). It also follows on the strong legacy of Brno‘s conceptual artists and their interventions into the public space.

The premiére of the opera The Last Polo is announced on 30 September 2018 from 19:00 at the spa in Rašínova Street. Repeated shows are scheduled for 12 and 14 October 2018.

The founding members of the Hausopera society are the opera singer Josef Škarka, the music publicist Boris Klepal and the producer Lucie Kořínková. The Hausopera’s mission, according to Josef Škarka, is as follows: "The world is one big theatre, just find the right place and start playing. The actors do not need a stage or a curtain, the audience can do without tuxedos and formal evening gowns. The site for a new opera is perhaps where you regularly do your shopping, work, walk your dog, play football or drink beer. We can find such places and show them in unexpected light. We can take the illusion of everydayness away from them and resurrect their true glamour. We do not paint them pink, we do not make any illusions about them, and we just let them talk. And we guarantee them their freedom of speech."

Photo / Marek Olbrzymek

Comments

Reply

No comment added yet..

Hajcman, a tramp-swing group with its roots in Brno, released their expected debut album Jednou to bude (It Will Come to Pass). The band’s name, derived from the Czech word for a supporting steel frame in coal mining, is a reference to cave exploring, the hobby of the group’s leader Martin Škrobák, whose first band was called Stalaktit (Stalactite). While the album largely showcases the talents of the tramping legend, it does feature a sample of the band’s work in the form of two songs by Martin, hinting at the direction of the band’s future album of author's songs. It’s Jaroslav Velinský aka Kapitán Kid who is the author of the most of the debut’s collection of songs, the result of over a decade’s effort. An old friend of Martin’s, as well as a fellow musician and inspiration to him, the tramping music king Kapitán Kid had planned to record some “blasts from the past” in 2005 with his previous outfit the Banjo Gang, as described in the sleeve notes and associated songbook. Joint recording sessions with Martin and his friends took place subsequently, but Velinský’s best-known tramping songs from the CD Tempo di kůň (Tempo de Horse; released in 2007) were eventually preferred. This is how these tracks came to be short-listed, with the blessing of Kapitán Kid himself, and recorded just a few years after the songwriter’s death, making it essentially a tribute to him.  more

While concert halls and opera houses are rather on the empty side, seven hotels in the city have seen a lot more activity thanks to the Brno Contemporary Orchestra – a chamber music group led by Pavel Šnajdr and the arts platform Terén – Pole performativního umění (Terrain – Fields for the Performing Arts). Every night of the week, from 15 to 21 March, fans of modern artificial music had the opportunity to visit one of the hotels via YouTube. Not only was the atmosphere of the empty rooms and corridors absorbing, but also the drama in combination with unusual the visual stimuli. Please, do not disturb, as the series was named by its creators - the Brno Contemporary Orchestra and Terén, featured more than just standard recordings of concerts. Indeed, a narrative thread ran through every evening’s experience, which was directly or subtly connected with the musicians or the space itself.  more

“It’s absolutely perfect, I play it all the time and it plays in my head all the time,” commented Matěj H., a music studies graduate and Brno politician. In another Facebook debate, a musical editor with a pen name of Max B. depicts it to be “totally horrible stuff.” Few domestic albums recorded in 2020 received such varied responses as Folk Swings, a collection of what were initially contemporary folk songs, re-arranged to become big-band pieces and performed by B-Side Band with Josef Buchta as the bandmaster.  more

In late 2020, the Brno Philharmonic released two recordings of works by Antonín Dvořák and Antonín Rejcha. We have already reviewed the “Dvořák” CD with the composer’s Symphony No. 1 and his Maličkosti (Bagatelles); the adaptation and instrumentation of the two works was provided by Dennis Russell Davies, the chief conductor of the orchestra. Now we are going to look at the recording of Lenore – a musical picture composed by Antonín Rejcha to the text of Gottfried August Bürger’s ballad of the same name. The CD features Martina Janková as Lenore, Pavla Vykopalová as Lenore’s mother, Wojciech Parchem as the narrator and Jiří Brückler as the late soldier William. The Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno also performed side by side with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Petr Fiala as the choir director. As with the recording of Antonín Dvořák´s works, this project was also directed by conductor Dennis Russell Davies.  more

Following the concerts streamed online in January and complete with a series of innovative video trailers, The Czech Ensemble Baroque returned with live streaming yesterday night. This time it was the second concert from their series entitled Bach & Mozart in Focus (Czech: Bacha na Mozarta); it was planned for 21 October, but rescheduled. From the Brothers of Mercy Convent, it featured, as the central part of the performance, the psalm of Dixit Dominus by Georg Friedrich Händel.  more