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Slovak National Theatre's new season

AFTER a dampened season last year, the Slovak National Theatre (SND) promises to offer more than a dozen premieres in its opera, ballet and drama productions, though some of these premieres have been shifted to this season from before the summer break. Altogether 74 productions, including 19 premieres, will make up the repertory offered by the “first Slovak stage” as the SND terms itself.

AFTER a dampened season last year, the Slovak National Theatre (SND) promises to offer more than a dozen premieres in its opera, ballet and drama productions, though some of these premieres have been shifted to this season from before the summer break. Altogether 74 productions, including 19 premieres, will make up the repertory offered by the “first Slovak stage” as the SND terms itself.

“The SND will also introduce some novelties, especially discussions with artists, jazz evenings and ‘Contemporary Dance Mondays’,” the SND’s general manager, Ondrej Šoth, told a press conference, adding that the theatre wants to attract both young performers and young audiences while preserving its exclusive position as a national institution.

Television broadcasts involving the theatre’s performers as well as backstage information on various offerings start in September on the show Zo zákulisia (From the Backstage) on the TA3 news channel. The three SND ensembles are also scheduled to give guest appearances abroad. For instance, the ballet will give 50 performances in 40 Italian towns in late 2011 and early 2012 along with international star guests such as Italian soprana Cecilia Bartolli and Argentinian tenor José Cura, who will be performing the role of Othello.

Premieres of operatic works include Giuseppe Verdi’s Othello in October, the operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat) by Johann Strauss in late December, Leoš Janáček’s Jenúfa (Her Stepdaughter/Jej pastorkyňa) in March and Giacomo Puccini’s Manon Lescaut next June. The premiere of Slovak Ján Cikker’s Mr Scrooge will commemorate the composer’s 100th anniversary in November; it was last performed in Bratislava in 1963.

While the opera will focus mainly on classics, the ballet company will combine rather traditional pieces with more modern trends in ballet along with experimental dance pieces. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint Exupéry, choreographed by Ondrej Šoth) will debut in mid September; Odysseus (Ulysses) to the music of Michael Kocáb and Pražský výběr, again choreographed by Ondrej Šoth, will arrive in November; the Duo (consisting of two parts – Uwe Scholz’s choreography of Schuman’s 2nd Symphony and Nacho Duato’s Duende choreography) will come in March; and the classic fairy tale Sleeping Beauty (by P. I. Tchaikovsky, choreographed by Vladimir Malakhov) will open next May.

The plans for this season also include a guest performance by Compagnie Pál Frenák (France/Hungary) which brings avant-garde modern dance entitled 'Twins' and 'InTimE' in November and the Contemporary Dance Mondays in the smaller 'Drama studio' that will offer alternative genres and young artists, for example from elledanse, Debris Company, Marta Poláková & Co. and others. Beginning in October every second Monday will offer a contemporary dance piece or performer.

The drama company will offer a host of premieres, from classics like Moliére, A. P. Chekhov and Aristophanes, through a fairy tale of Slovak Pavol Dobšinský, to modern plays by Tracy Letts (US), Peter Quilter (UK), Shelagh Stephenson (Scotland), Anna Yablonska (UK), and Martin McDonagh (IRL). Emil Horváth, the new head of the drama section of the SND – who took his job only in spring 2011 – promised to offer more Slovak plays next season.

Peter Dvorský, who heads the opera section and started last season, told the news conference he would like to end some of the oldest productions currently offered by the SND and begin more flexible, up-to-date and innovative pieces, perhaps in co-production with other stages. Andrii Suhkanov, who replaced Czech choreographer Vlastimil Harapes this spring told the journalists that “in ballet, I would like to bring some more fairy tales, either replacing the old ones or complementing them, some classical choreographies, and then some modern ones for an artistic confrontation”.

The 2011-2012 SND season opened on September 10 with a gala concert dedicated to the Visegrad Group’s 20th anniversary. It featured guest performers from the other V4 countries: Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. More “opera specials” include a matinée on September 11 dedicated to Elena Kittnarová within the Kontinuity cycle, and an evening with Peter Dvorský, who celebrates his 60th birthday this year on September 24, called E lucevan le stelle.


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