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New theatre season promises excitement and originality

WITH the new season already underway, Slovak theatres are running full speed ahead toward a number of exciting premieres. This year's highlights include operas by Giacomo Puccini, Franz Lehár, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a series of fascinating concert lectures at the Slovak Philharmonic, and the return of famed producer-director Jozef Bednárik.

WITH the new season already underway, Slovak theatres are running full speed ahead toward a number of exciting premieres. This year's highlights include operas by Giacomo Puccini, Franz Lehár, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a series of fascinating concert lectures at the Slovak Philharmonic, and the return of famed producer-director Jozef Bednárik.

The Banská Bystrica Music Days Festival, which runs October 21 to 27, will be the setting for the Banská Bystrica State Opera's (ŠOBB) new production of Puccini's beloved La Bohéme. This mirrors the Slovak National Theatre's (SND) presentation of another Puccini favourite, Turandot, which takes to the stage in March, with award-winning director Jozef Bednárik at the helm.

"We are delighted to have Mr Bednárik on the staff again," said Slavomír Jakubek on behalf of the SND. "We consider him a unique and most creative director, whose theatrical style suits this wonderful work and adds symbolism, oriental imagery, and spectacular scenery."

December has also shaped up as an important month. The State Theatre Košice will launch a premiere of Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake and both the SND Opera and the ŠOBB will premiere productions of Lehár's charming operetta The Merry Widow.

The State Theatre Košice is also planning productions of Antonín Dvořák's lyric opera Rusalka and Sergei Prokofiev's ballet Romeo and Juliet, to be announced later this season.

The SND Ballet will treat audiences to a belated Christmas present - a completely new interpretation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, with music by Slovak composer Peter Zagar and choreography by Etienne Frey, from Switzerland. The Slovak Philharmonic, in an effort to attract young music lovers, will host How to Listen to Music - Evolution of the Orchestra, the first part of an educational concert lecture series given by Larry Newland, a conductor at the ŠOBB and former assistant conductor to Leonard Bernstein.

In order to truly experience the music, audience members will even be invited on stage to see the instruments and feel the vibration up close.

"The best way to teach without an audience feeling it's being lectured to is to give audiovisual examples," said Newland.

As spring blooms, the ŠOBB will stage a new production of Jules Massenet's romantic French opera Werther and April will see the SND Ballet present Don Juan, a classic work with new music by Mirko Krajči and choreography by Igor Holováč. Larry Newland will also return to the Philharmonic for the second part of his lecture series How to Listen to Music - Unusual Musical Instruments.

The season will wrap up with the SND Opera's new production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro and the ŠOBB's rendition of Mozart's highly underappreciated opera La finta giardiniera.

The ŠOBB also plans to present its 33rd Annual Zvolen Castle Games International Summer Theatre and Opera Festival from the end of June to the beginning of July.

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