The Mute Canary

28.6.2018, 18:30, Antonín Dvořák Theater

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Chamber one-act opera, 2017–2018

Music: Rudolf Komorous
Libretto: Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, translated by Christopher Butterfield

Conductor: Owen Underhill
Directors: Jan Horák, Michal Pěchouček
Stage design: Michal Pěchouček
Costumes: Tereza Hrzánová

Anne Grimm, soprano (Barate)
Alexander Dobson, baritone (Riquet)
Daniel Cabena, countertenor (Ochre)

Ostravská banda

World premiere, 45 min

In English language with Czech subtitles

In co-production with Turning Point Ensemble

I have always admired French modernity, especially the Dadaists and Surrealists. I am fascinated by their general attitude toward art and the world, and their search for and definition of new values ​​through creative experiments, greatly diverging from the often-limiting freedoms of science. For me, one of the most important Dadaists was Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes. When I was in Prague, I received the translation of one of his plays, which was staged at the Liberated Theater. It fascinated me. After my arrival in Canada, I asked my friend and then-pupil Christopher Butterfield if he would translate the play into English for me so I could stage it. He was excited about this French author and eventually translated and released three of his plays in the United States. I did not know the play The Mute Canary, which was part of that release, but I immediately realized that it fits into my concept of chamber opera: there are few characters and its not too long. Renáta Spisarová supported me in my determination to write an opera on this motif. She immediately showed interest in putting on the opera in Ostrava. Despite all of my health complications, I am doing everything I can to get the job done as soon as possible.

Rudolf Komorous, January 23, 2018

Rudolf Komorous
(1931) is a Czech composer living in Canada since 1969. He studied bassoon with Karel Pivoňka at the Prague Conservatoire and composition with Pavel Bořkovec at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. In the 50s and 60s, his interest in the Czech avant-garde brought him among Šmidrové, a small circle of painters, sculptors, and writers influenced by dada and surrealism. In 1961, he co-founded Musica viva pragensis and played bassoon in the ensemble until 1968. He taught bassoon and chamber music techniques at Beijings Central Conservatory of Music (1959–1961) and Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota (1970–1971), went on to teach at the University of Victoria, British Columbia (1971–1989), and was the director of School for the Contemporary Arts at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, from 1989 to 1994. His oeuvre comprises many orchestral works (including 5 symphonies) as well as compositions for solo instruments, vocalists, and chamber ensembles. Outside of Ostrava Days, organized by Ostrava Center for New Music, Komorous music is only sporadically performed in the Czech Republic.