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WITH THE HOLIDAYS COMING TO AN END, CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS ARE BEGINNING TO REVEAL THEIR PLANS FOR THE NEW THEATRE SEASON OF 2004 AND 2005. THE SLOVAK SPECTATOR MAPPED THE SITUATION ON THE STAGES OF TH

What the new season brings to theatres

Slovak National Theatre (SND)
Slovakia's main opera and ballet stage will continue to follow its dramaturgical concept of the previous years. Four new works from various periods will expand the opera's repertoire. The SND Ballet, on the other hand, decided to split its plans into two seasons.
"The season of 2004-2005, which is connected with the celebration of 85 years since the SND Ballet's first performance, will favour large classical works and the season of 2005-2006 will favour original [Slovak] works - three new ballet performances, including a children's title. The reasoning behind this arrangement is to gain time for choreographers and composers to prepare the new works," said Emil T Bartko, the SND Ballet's director.


photo: File photo

Slovak National Theatre (SND)

Slovakia's main opera and ballet stage will continue to follow its dramaturgical concept of the previous years. Four new works from various periods will expand the opera's repertoire. The SND Ballet, on the other hand, decided to split its plans into two seasons.

"The season of 2004-2005, which is connected with the celebration of 85 years since the SND Ballet's first performance, will favour large classical works and the season of 2005-2006 will favour original [Slovak] works - three new ballet performances, including a children's title. The reasoning behind this arrangement is to gain time for choreographers and composers to prepare the new works," said Emil T Bartko, the SND Ballet's director.

The coming season will introduce two ballet works. The first will be the large classic work Le Corsaire on January 28, studied by Russian ballet masters engaged with the SND - Rafael G Avnikjan and Bachram M Juldašev. At the same time, the SND Ballet will present awards for the best Slovak ballet dancers of 2004. The second work, La Sylphide, studied by representatives of a Danish ballet school, will take the stage on April 22. In May, the Ballet will celebrate its 85th birthday, inviting foreign as well as Slovak soloists working abroad.

The SND Opera will open the new season on October 1 with The Players, a work by contemporary leading Slovak composer Juraj Beneš. Inspired by the Shakespeare's Hamlet, the parts of eight protagonists equal in size, each performing several characters on the stage, are written in five languages - English, Italian, French, German, and Latin. The composer's own, subjective adaptation of Hamlet was first premiered in 2002 in Cologne.

The three other works the SND Opera will present are the Giuseppe Verdi's Un Ballo in Maschera (in Italian), Antonín Dvořák's Rusalka (in Czech), and Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes (in English).

"Britten's opera has not yet been performed in Slovakia. The work belongs to the golden fund of the 'opera classics' of the 20th century. The opera's theme of the existential loneliness of an individual in society is always felt and in every time," said Marián Chudovský, the SND Opera director.

With Verdi's opera the theatre follows in the tradition of bringing the composer's works more frequently to the stage than the works of other authors. Verdi's operas form the core repertoire of opera theatres around the world and the Opera SND has been presenting them on a regular basis since its establishment in 1920, and even before. Dvořák's Rusalka, on the other hand, fits into the space reserved for Czech romantic operas on Slovak opera stages.

While each performance will feature a quality cast from the theatre, Chudovský said that the theatre could not do without its excellent guests and great creative impulses.

"Yet the first work, The Players, is directed by [famous Slovak actor] Martin Huba and it is his first time directing an opera. The conductor is also a guest artist - Pavol Tužinský from the Banská Bystrica State Opera," Chudovský said.

A team from the Prague National Theatre will prepare the premiere of Dvořák's Rusalka opera in the spring. The work will be directed by the Prague theatre's artistic director, Jiří Nekvasil, and designed by the theatre's general director, Daniel Dvořák.

State Theatre in Košice

The opera and ballet stage of the Košice State Theatre is preparing seven premieres for the upcoming season. The opera portion will bring four classical works, while the ballet will add both classical works and an original Slovak work to its repertoire.

The Slovak production of Malý Princ (The Little Prince) will start the theatre's season on September 10 and 11. The modern ballet performance, incorporating film, music, and movement, is designed to attract children as well as adults. Based on the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, it is directed and choreographed by Ondrej Šoth, director of the Ballet of the State Theatre. Czechs Michal Pavlíček and Dávid Spáčil composed music and created film, respectively, especially for the spectacle.

Other ballet premieres will include Louis Joseph Ferdinand Hérold's La Fille mal Gardée, and Carl Orff's Carmina Burana.

The opera stage will bring a selection from the world's well-known opera and operetta works. September 24 will introduce Die Lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow) by Franz Lehár, conducted by Karol Kevický and Igor Dohovič. Bizet's Carmen, Rossini's Le Barbier de Séville, and Offenbach's Madame Denise will follow later that season.

Apart from the two Czech artists cooperating with the theatre on The Little Prince, the State Theatre invited another Czech duo to help on Lehár's operetta piece - director Radek Chabina and stage director Vojtěch Štolfa. Other guests are not yet specified. The visitors to the theatre's ballet, though, can certainly look forward to watching the stunts of its professional dancers.

"The Košice State Theatre features ballet dancers that are among the Europe's best. Many dancers are from Ukraine and Russia, fully engaged with the theatre, and one knows that the classical Russian school is a guarantee of professionalism," said Jozef Horváth, the theatre's public relations manager.

State Opera in Banská Bystrica

Central Slovakia's opera stage will begin its season on October 22 with Dana Dinková's music-drama-dance performance Biele Peklo alebo Mne sa to stať nemôže (White Hell or It Cannot Happen to Me). Through the fates of three young people, Dinková illustrates the current problem of drug addiction. That same date will also start the 11th annual Banská Bystrica Music Days festival with foreign participation.

Among other works that will enrich the theatre's repertoire will be the most successful work of Austrian composer Karl Millöcker, the melodic operetta Der Bettelstudent; Giuseppe Verdi's nationalistic opera Attila; and Giochimo Rossini's comic work Le Barbier de Séville.

The summer months will open the 32th annual International Summer Drama and Opera Festival of Zvolen Castle Days. Visitors to the theatre can also find a handful of vocal-instrumental and symphonic concerts.

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