NODO 2020 / New Opera Days Ostrava

August 28, 2020
18:30 | Antonín Dvořák Theater
Marek Keprt: HIBIKI, HIBIKI, VZHMOŤ! (2019-2020) / world premiere

Gustative-olfactory chamber (non)opera

Music and libretto: Marek Keprt

Conductor: Petr Kotík
Director: Petr Odo Macháček
Stage design: David Bazika

Markéta Israel Večeřová, soprano
Vendula Černá, soprano
Helena Kalambová, soprano
Michal Marhold, bass
Zdeňka Brychtová, actress
Matěj Kohout, actor
Michaela Raisová, dancer
Ostravská banda

World premiere, 45 min

In Czech original.

Hibiki is a premium Japanese whisky. Whisky connoisseurs appreciate its 17 and 21-year-old vintages, as well as the scarcely available 30-year-old one. To correctly taste Hibiki, it is essential to pronounce some proverbs and sayings. Yet these do not exclusively concern whisky. The very word Hibiki means “echo” or “resonance” in Japanese. Sound, taste, smell, touch, space – everything has its harmony, echoes, resonances. Let us get enTangled by them...

Marek Keprt (1974, Olomouc) is a pianist, composer and teacher, and is the program and artistic director of MusicOlomouc (an international festival of contemporary music) and artistic director of Lichtzwang (ensemble of contemporary music). Keprt studied composition with Iván Eröd and David Kaufmann, and piano with Alexander Jenner and Carmen Graf-Adnet at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna (1992–2000). From 2000–2008, he completed his PhD studies at the Department of Musicology at the Palacký University Olomouc. He was a resident of Ostrava Days 2017 Institute. From 2002 to 2014, Keprt worked as a piano and music theory teacher at the Conservatory in Opava. Since 2002, he has worked as an assistant professor for the Department of Musicology at Palacký University Olomouc. Keprt was awarded several prizes at the Generace Ostrava competition and The Alban Berg Foundation in Vienna. His compositions have been performed by Patricia Kopatchinskaja, the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, Berg orchestra, Ostravská Banda, AuditivVokal Dresden, Ensemble Mondrian and many others.

August 28, 2020
20:30 | Antonín Dvořák Theatre
Ana Sokolović: SVADBA (2011) / czech premiere

One-act opera for 6 female voices (Wedding)

Music: Ana Sokolović
Libretto: Ana Sokolović (based on Serbian folk poetry)

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Conductor: Jurij Galatenko
Director: Jiří Nekvasil
Stage design: David Bazika
Costumes: Marta Roszkopfová

Markéta Schaffartzik, soprano (Milica)
Patrícia Smol'aková, soprano (Danica)
Eva Marie Kořená, soprano (Lena)
Ivana Ambrúsová, soprano / mezzosoprano (Zora)
Lucie Hubená, mezzosoprano (Nada)
Tetiana Hryha, mezzosoprano (Ljubica)

Czech premiere, 55 min

In Serbian with Czech and English subtitles.

When Queen of Puddings Music Theatre approached me to write an opera for six female voices, I took the opportunity to explore a wedding, particularly the evening before the ceremony, during which the bride-to-be and her friends devote themselves to private ancient rituals. The text is based on original Serbian poetry but recontextualized, adapting it for our contemporary culture. The music is derived from traditional folklore. The structure of the work is informed by everyday images and objects such as hair, cups, and water. The scenes unfold not through a linear narrative, but through a joyful interconnection of tableaus, in which the animated drama turns ordinary life into moments of magic and fantasy. A wedding is an important turning point in a woman’s life. Anchored in long-standing traditions, it always marks a transition for her. This rite of passage that Milica experiences is a universal one, an archetype of the human experience. Svadba (Wedding) offers us a chance to delve deeply into the virtues and richness of this brief but decisive juncture in a woman’s life. Svadba is dedicated to my parents.

Ana Sokolović

An important figure in contemporary music, the composer Ana Sokolović has distinguished herself both in Canada and internationally. Her works, infused with Balkan rhythms, are influenced by different artistic disciplines and seduce an ever-growing audience, drawing them into a vividly imagined world. Her success can be measured by prestigious collaborations with Canadian orchestras, leading artists, and many Quebecois chamber music ensembles. Sokolović’s varied repertoire, which has received numerous awards and prizes, includes several productions of her operas, such as The Midnight Court, which was produced at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. In addition to her activities as a composer, Ana Sokolović is also a professor of composition at the University of Montreal.

August 29, 2020
18:30 | BrickHouse (Hlubina Coal Mine)
Michal Rataj & Katharina Schmitt: A STUDY OF APHASIA (2019-20) / world premiere

Music theatre

Music: Michal Rataj
Librettist and director: Katharina Schmitt

Dramaturgy: Viktorie Knotková
Stage design: Pavel Svoboda
Light design: Zuzana Režná
Costumes: Patricia Talacko
Sound: Matěj Šenkyřík

Katalin Károlyi, mezzosoprano
Ivana Uhlířová, actress
Andrej Gál, violoncello, percussion
Tiburtina Ensemble (Barbora KabátkováIvana Bilej BroukováAnna Chadimová HavlíkováKamila Mazalová)
Michal Rataj, electronics

World premiere, 45 min

The composition of Michal Rataj’s A Study of Aphasia mixes music and sounds with the texts of Katharina Schmitt, focusing on spatial and performative aspects of contemporary music-theatre. It is a music-theatre performance for mezzosoprano, violoncello, female vocal quartet, live electronics and one actress. In his book Children’s Speech and Aphasia (1918), the Austrian linguist and founder of logopaedics, Emil Fröschels, describes the relationship between the development of language skills among children, speech impediments and psychology. Among other topics, Fröschels mainly focuses on the area of speech loss or aphasia. Inspired by Fröschels’ book and one particular scene from Ingmar Bergman's Persona (the one in which the actress loses her voice), Schmitt and Rataj explore language, speech and voice. For them,  the question, “who speaks?” is just as important as the question, “who cannot speak?” or, “who cannot be heard?” The performance is concerned with the study of voice as a fundamental element of identity. The dramaturgical framework is based on a situation between a mute (speechless) character and a speaking one, which results in a palette of different vocal expressions such as singing, Sprechgesang (speech-song), whispering, speaking and screaming. The states between speaking and lack of speech are presented in relation to the psychology of the characters. The spatial sound of the performance mirrors them.

Michal Rataj (1975) studied musicology and composition in the Czech Republic (FF UK, HAMU), in Germany (HU Berlin, UdK), in the UK (RHUL) and in the USA (CNMAT, UC Berkeley). He mainly focuses on the composition of electroacoustic and instrumental music, and since 2008, he has presented his solo sound performances in Europe and in the USA. Rataj is interested in the compositional aspects of surround sound, and experiments with painting pictures with sound. In 2002, he participated in the creation of the radio program Radioateliér for the Czech Radio station Vltava, and founded the internet portal rAdioCUSTICA, which is focused on mapping the contemporary scene of acoustic arts in the Czech Republic. Since 2014, he has been collaborating externally with Czech Radio. Rataj teaches composition and electroacoustic music at HAMU and NYU Prague. He has participated in many European music festivals (e.g. MetaMorf Trondheim, LAB30 Augsburg, and V:NM Graz). Rataj has done the music and sound design for a large number of radio plays, and has scored dozens of films. He has collaborated with Otakar Koska, Radim Procházka, Lucie Králová, Martin Řezníček, Hana Železná, Kamila Zlatušková and Robert Sedláček.

Katharina Schmitt (1979, Bremen) studied directing at the Prague Academy of Arts and works as a director and playwright. She has received accolades such as the Jakob-Michael-Reinhold-Lenz-Award for Playwriting for her play Knock Out, the Martha Saalfeld Award for Literature, an EHF 2010 Fellowship, a research fellowship from the Berlin Senate for Culture and an Alfred Döblin Scholarship from the Berlin Academy of Arts. Katharina Schmitt has collaborated with many international theatres and festivals, such as the Prague National Theatre, Thalia Theater Hamburg, Schauspiel Leipzig, Watermill Center New York, Festival Musica Strasbourg and the Munich Biennale, among others. Since 2012, she is one of the associate directors of the Studio Hrdinů theatre in Prague. Schmitt has worked extensively as a librettist and director within music theatre, opera and radio art: in 2016, she directed György Ligeti’s operas Aventures & Nouvelles Aventures, the opening of festival NODO Ostrava, and, in 2017, Jiří Kadeřábek’s opera No Man, for which she co-wrote the libretto, at the Prague National Theatre. In 2018, she directed Everything Goes to Plan by Ondřej Adámek, for which she wrote the libretto, at the Munich Biennale. Her radio work has been produced and broadcast by Deutschlandradio, ORF, Český Rozhlas, and WDR, receiving nominations for Prix Marulić and for Grand Prix Nova.

August 29, 2020
20:30 | Compress Hall (Hlubina Coal Mine)
Miro Tóth: THE MAN IN A SPACE SUIT (2019) / czech premiere

Multi-genre opera

Music and libretto: Miro Tóth

Libretto and dramaturgy: Michaela Rosová
Director: Jan Komárek
Stage & Costume Design: Lenka Kucháreková
Light Design: Jan Komárek
Sound & Electronics: Miro Tóth
Video: Miro Tóth, Viera Čakányová

Andrea Miltner, Woman on the Moon
Pasi Mäkelä, The Man in a Space Suit
Mikuláš Havrila, Peter Magyar, Peter Szeifert, Trombones
Márton Csernoszky, Bass Guitar
Alexandr Starý, Cembalo

Czech Premiere, 60 min

In Slovak language

The video opera Man in a Spacesuit is a multi-genre performance about an American cosmonaut with Slovak roots. We could include this production in the "extinct" genre of dramatic opera: Planet Earth is destroyed, humanity has relocated to the Moon. After many years, suddenly one person decides to return to planet Earth - he packs his flag and sets out on a journey to find his roots. But what is he looking for? And what can he ever find on this long-abandoned planet? The visually and acoustically impressive Man in a Spacesuit is loosely inspired by the story of Eugene Andrew Cernan, an astronaut with Czechoslovakian roots, who repeatedly visited the land of his ancestors and to whom the museum in Vysoká nad Kysucou is dedicated. The composer and librettist is Miroslav Tóth. The work was created under the banner of the cultural platform Project Batyskaf in co-production with Orchestra BERG. The creation of the work was financially supported by Slovak Arts Council.

Miroslav Tóth (1981) is a composer and saxophonist hailing from Bratislava. He finished his PhD studies at HAMU in Prague under Michal Rataj and his master studies at VŠMU in Bratislava under Vladimír Godár (for the first three years he studied under Jevgenij Iršaj). He was mentored by Ilja Zelenka at the beginning of his compositional studies. He is also a graduate of musicology at the Comenius University in Bratislava. Tóth is the author of the one-act opera Mystery of a Bar, the opera A Miraculous Bar for Clerks in Public Institutions, three video operas – A Tooth for a Tooth,Eye for an Eye and The Pole, and an unfinished opera Outpark. His composition The Quartet of Tentacles Reaching Out was performed by Kronos Quartet. Furthermore, he wrote the composition Theory of Absolute Sadness for soprano and orchestra, the cabaret suite BallOnAir and Requiem for Mafioso for a cappella choir and contra tenor. In 2018, he won a Radio_Head award for his electroacoustic composition Kyberpunkomša (Cyber-Punk-Ceremony). He is a member of the bands Shibuya Motors, Thisnis, Frozen Wigwam, and Funeral Marching Band. As a saxophonist, singer and soundpainting conductor, he focuses on free improvisation, graphic scores that overlap with the visual sphere, and on works with some degree of openness. He has composed the music to several feature films and regularly collaborates with Ivan Ostrochovský and Robert Kirchhoff.

August 30, 2020
18:30 | Jiří Myron Theatre
Richard Ayres: NO. 50 (THE GARDEN) (2017-2018) / world premiere of the staged version

Composition for bass voice, ensemble and soundtrack

Music: Richard Ayres
Libretto: Richard Ayres (incorporating words by Dante, Leopardi, Shakespeare, Poe, Rossetti and others)

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

Joshua Bloom, bass
Ostravská banda

Czech premiere, 60 min

In English with Czech subtitles.

The Garden was commissioned by Asko|Schönberg ensemble and London Sinfonietta with initial development funded by The Royal Opera (London). Inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, Richard Ayres also drew on texts by Edgar Allan Poe, Christina Rossetti, William Shakespeare and Giacomo Leopardi to create a theatrical concert work in a similar vein to his highly popular earlier work No. 42 (In the Alps)The Garden is a darkly comic tale about a discontented man in search of meaning. He digs from his garden down towards the centre of the earth to find the underworld, then all the way back up again to heaven, only to find himself back in his garden once more. Sampled electronics feature heavily throughout the piece, in keeping with Ayres’ current fascination with electronic sounds as heard in recent works such as No. 48 (night studio) (2015) and No. 51 (resting songs) (2017). Richard Ayres himself stated that: “The bass will sing the voices of all the characters during the performance, as though singing to himself. This confuses the certainty of reality, and creates the impression of listening to the central character’s thoughts. Are we as an audience watching reality, or observing a dream and fantasy world? Is the man in fact awake, asleep, or even dead? This I want to keep ambiguous.”

Richard Ayres was born in Cornwall (Great Britain) in 1965. In 1986, he took courses with Morton Feldman at the Darmstadt and Dartington summer schools, and after these experiences, decided to become a full-time composer. He studied composition at the University of Huddersfield, and postgraduate composition with Louis Andriessen at the Royal Conservatoire in Den Haag, graduating in 1992. Ayres continues to live in the Netherlands, and currently teaches composition at the Conservatoire in Amsterdam. Ayres’ music has been performed by many of the major European contemporary music ensembles, as well as by numerous orchestras. He collaborated with the novelist and poet Lavinia Greenlaw on an operatic version of Peter Pan, which was premiered by Stuttgart Opera in 2013. In 2009 and 2015, Ayres partook in Ostrava Days as a lecturer. In 2016, NODO festival featured the first full-stage production of his opera/melodrama No. 42 (In the Alps) (2008).



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