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..

Those who were captivated by the introductory distinctive song with surrealistic lyrics  Z ježatých hor [From the Spiky Mountains] on the previous album of the Brno group Budoár Staré dámy [Boudoir of an Old Lady] (Sůl [Salt], 2017), can rejoice. The collaboration with the contemporary poet Lubor Kasal that began only three years ago has now resulted in an entire album of his texts set to music. However, the songs on the new album Kostřičky [Little Skeletons] have one more characteristic in common: the production and arrangement contribution by the multi-instrumentalist Tomáš Vtípil.  more

The Janáček Brno 2020 International Festival promptly replaced yesterday's Hungarian performance of the opera Salome by Richard Strauss. Instead of the guest appearance, the National Theatre Brno offered a concert programme under the simple name Orchestra of the Janáček Opera. After a long time, the audience could see the musicians who normally remain hidden inside the orchestra pit. In addition to the orchestra, which was conducted by Robert Kružík, the violinist Josef Špaček and the pianist Miroslav Sekera also appeared. The programme clearly consisted only of the works by Leoš Janáček, and since the originally planned performances can no longer be staged in the ever-tightening quarantine environment, the evening at the Janáček Theatre meant a farewell to the festival as such. The last live concert of the Janáček Brno 2020 festival is today's performance of the Brno Philharmonic in the Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Old Brno.  more

Sunday afternoon was marked by another concert of the Janáček Brno 2020 festival. Chamber music performed by the Josef Suk Piano Quartet was given space in the Mozart Hall of Reduta. This ensemble (young both in the year of its founding and its age composition) prepared a truly beautiful and diverse programme for its visit to Brno, and presented it to the audience with adequate commitment.  more

Despite the unpredictability of the coronavirus situation, the Janáček Brno 2020 festival opened yesterday at the Janáček Theatre in Brno. The gala opening of the festival featured a premiere of the opera Destiny by Leoš Janáček directed by Robert Carsen, one of today's praised opera directors.  In fact, Brno audiences had the opportunity to get acquainted with his directing visions of Janáček's operas already in the past; Carsen's concepts for The Makropulos Affair and Katya Kabanova rank among the best that have appeared on the stage of the National Theatre in Brno in recent years. However, the production of Destiny at this year's Janáček's festival is even more exceptional, as this time the director created it directly for the Brno opera house. The costumes were designed by Annemarie Woods, while the stage design was created by Radu Boruzescu. Philip Sheffield (old Živný) and Enrico Casari (young Živný) played the roles of the composer Živný; his fateful love Míla Válková was portrayed by Alžběta Poláčková and her mother by Natascha Petrinsky. Peter Račko performed the role of Dr. Suda, Jan Šťáva was the painter Lhotský and Lukáš Bařák gave his voice to the character of Konečný. The music production is the work of Marko Ivanović, who also conducted the premiere yesterday.Destiny is often described as a problematic opera with a confused story and an imperfect libretto.  more

Let us hope that Sunday's concert to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the great music band of the Brno-based Valášek Children's Ethnographic Ensemble (Dětský národopisný soubor Valášek) will not be the last event that ever-changing government regulations will allow. And even if that, God forbid, was the case, it would be a dignified farewell.  more