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AFTER A TWO-MONTH SUMMER HOLIDAY, BRATISLAVA'S MAIN CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS HAVE STARTED THEIR NEW SEASON. THIS PAGE IS DEDICATED TO THE PLANS, PROGRAMMES, AND ACTIVITIES THE OPERA AND BALLET SCENES OF

Slovak Opera initiates five premieres



The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Could you introduce the performances the theatre plans to premiere in the new season?
Marián Chudovský (MC): The first premiere of the season is the opera Katya Kabanova by Czech composer Leoš Janáček. This is a masterpiece of 20th century music. The operas by Janáček have not been performed in our theatre since 1989. By including Katya Kabanova in our repertoire, we would like to prolong the tradition of presenting modern Slavic opera works to the public. We are happy that this premiere coincides with two important dates - the 150th anniversary of the composer's birth and the Year of Czech Music.

The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Could you introduce the performances the theatre plans to premiere in the new season?


Marián Chudovský (MC): The first premiere of the season is the opera Katya Kabanova by Czech composer Leoš Janáček. This is a masterpiece of 20th century music. The operas by Janáček have not been performed in our theatre since 1989. By including Katya Kabanova in our repertoire, we would like to prolong the tradition of presenting modern Slavic opera works to the public. We are happy that this premiere coincides with two important dates - the 150th anniversary of the composer's birth and the Year of Czech Music. The artistic interpretation of this performance was done by Czech stage director Josef Průdek.

The next premiere of the season will also be interesting for those who love modern music. It will be an evening dedicated to [Hungarian composer] Béla Bartók - his ballet The Wooden Prince and opera Duke Bluebeard's Castle. János Kovács, the Chief Conductor at the Budapest National Opera will conduct it.


SND Opera director, Chudovský, talks about a challenging season.
photo: Lidia Staub

The premiere of the Macbeth opera by Giuseppe Verdi will continue the Italian bel canto tradition in our theatre. For that production we have invited conductor Oliver Dohnányi, who returns to our theatre after several years.

The fourth premiere of the season would definitely attract those who like experimental theatre. The Daughter of the Regiment [La Fille du Régiment] by Gaetano Donizetti will be directed by Jozef Bednárik, who is known to be courageous and unconventional. The spirit of the French comic opera is very close to the playful artistic style of the director, and we expect this production to be something outstanding, similar to Cinderella from last season.

And the last premiere will be Alcina by Georg Friedrich Händel - a masterpiece of baroque music. I cannot even remember when we last staged a baroque opera at our theatre. So, in this sense, it will be equally challenging for the musicians as well as for the public.

I would also like to mention the Sunday Matinees [before premiere presentations of operas] that we have started this year. During those matinees musicologist Jaroslav Blaho introduces the coming opera premieres.


TSS: Who will be the soloists that will perform at the opera this coming season?

MC: SND Opera is known for its good artistic potential. We have a handful of very good Slovak singers as well as guest soloists, who keep coming back to our theatre. Among Slovak singers I could name Ľubica Vargicová, Sergej Larin, Miroslav and Peter Dvorský, Peter Mikuláš, Jolana Fogašová, and Dalibor Jenis. They have contracts with the best opera houses around the world but they never forget Slovakia and regularly perform at the SND.


TSS: There is great artistic potential at the Slovak Opera. However, because of the very central location of Slovakia in Europe, the theatre's soloists can be tempted to leave the country for better engagements abroad. Is this true?

MC: It's very much true. But as I already mentioned, many of them never forget the theatre they came from. And we are happy that the Slovak vocal school is appreciated worldwide.

I must admit that our financial situation cannot compete with those bigger and more famous opera houses [in Europe]. That is also why we cannot invite any world stars; we can have only those who agree to perform for the money we are able to offer. Many of our guests understand our situation and accept our conditions. [On the other side], the central location of Slovakia in Europe is a big advantage for the theatre because 20 percent of our public comes from Germany and Austria.


TSS: Who finances the opera house?

MC: The Opera House is financed by the state. Ninety percent of our budget comes from the Cultural Ministry and the rest comes from private sponsors.


TSS: Do you expect any changes in the situation of the theatre after Slovakia joins the European Union?

MC: No, we don't expect big changes for a simple reason, which is that opera nowadays is a very international art. We have been cooperating with many foreign opera houses for a long time, mainly with the ones in neighbouring countries.

We hope the number of joint productions with other theatres will increase in the future. Also I hope that the financial situation of our theatre will slowly approach the level of the other Visegrad Four countries [the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary].


SND Opera and Ballet premieres of the 2003/2004 season
Opera
October 3 and 4

Katya Kabanova by Leoš Janáček
November 6 and 11
Duke Bluebeard's Castle by Béla Bartók


December 19 and 20
Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi


March 19 and 20
The Daughter of the Regiment by Gaetano Donizetti


June 4
Alcina by Georg Friedrich Händel


Ballet
November 6 and 11

The Wooden Prince by Béla Bartók


January 30 and 31
Caligula by Henrich Leško


May 7
A Midsummer Night's Dream by Peter Zagar

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