Thy Kingdom Come

25.6.2018, 18:30, Jiří Myron Theater

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Sixth-tone opera in three acts and seven tableaux for mixed choir and orchestra, including vocal solos by 26 different characters, with a subtitle The Unemployed (op. 50), 1937–1942

Music: Alois Hába
Libretto: Alois Hába, edited by Ferdinand Pujman

Conductor: Bruno Ferrandis
Director: Jiří Nekvasil
Stage design: David Bazika
Costumes: Marta Roszkopfová

Michaela Šrůmová, soprano
Kamila Mazalová, mezzo-soprano
Marek Olbrzymek, tenor
Juraj Nociár, tenor
Josef Moravec, tenor
Vojtěch Šembera, baritone
Josef Škarka, baritone
David Nykl, bass
Canticum Ostrava, Jurij Galatenko (choirmaster)
Ostravská banda
ONO / Ostrava New Orchestra

World premiere, 100 min

In Czech language with English subtitles

The compositional career of Alois Hába (1893–1973) began in Vienna, where he resided beginning in 1914. He studied composition with the radical modernist Franz Schreker, whom he followed from Vienna to Berlin in the late 1920’s. While in Vienna, Hába become part of a circle of followers of Arnold Schönberg, whose concerts he regularly attended. He also met and struck up a lifelongfriendship with Hanns Eisler, who studied under Schoenberg in Vienna. Hába and Eisler shared interests in atonal and dodecaphonic principles in music, as well as in leftist politics. Hába joined the communist party during this time.

Hába’s philosophical ties and world views extended beyond his radical leftist beliefs. He was also closely associated with Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophical movement, and was – to an extent – a devout Christian.

Hába was one of the first microtonal composers and theorists. In 1922, he published Harmonic Essentials of the Quarter-tone System (Harmonické základy čtvrttónové soustavy), an important treaty on microtonality (in Czech, published by Hudební matice). The next year, Hába met Ferrucio Busoni, who introduced Hába to a microtonal sixth-tone system,and encouraged him to continue to focus on microtonality. Hába gained worldwide recognition after a performance of his quarter-tone String Quartet No. 3at the festival in Donaueschingen in 1923. By 1931, after theMunich premiere of his quarter-tone opera Mother(Matka), Hába was one of the best-known avant-garde composers of his generation. In the early 1930’s, as the Nazi’s came to power in Germany, Hába moved from Berlin back to Prague. When Josef Suk became the director of the Prague Conservatory in 1933, Hába was made a full professor and established the Department of Quarter-tone and Sixth-tone Music there.

With the help of the Czechoslovakian government, Hába designed and commissioned microtonalpianos and wind instruments. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, the German piano firm August Förster manufactured three microtonal pianos and a sixth-tone harmonium (patterned after a design by Busoni) for Hába. 

The sixth-tone harmonium features prominently in Hába’s third opera Thy Kingdom Come(Přijď království tvé) and the original instrument commissioned by Hába will be heard at the premiere performance of the opera at NODO 2018.Thy Kingdom Comeis composed in the sixth-tone system, and its libretto was co-created by Hába and Ferdinand Pujman, a major Czech literary and theater personality. Hába began composing Thy Kingdom Comein 1939, and the score was completed in 1942.  Staging the opera was out of the question at that time because of the war, and although Hába considered this opera to be the pinnacle of his artistic career, it was never produced during his lifetime. With the revival of Alois Hába’s Thy Kingdom Comecomes the opportunity to witness a document of an outstanding, progressive era of music in the Czech Republic.