Renovated historic Prague State Opera will focus with a multi-year-programme on "Musica Non Grata"
After three years of major reconstruction, the Prague State Opera (Státní Opera) has reopened its doors once again. First opened on January 5, 1888 as the "New German Theatre", it has been reopened in 2020 on the same historic date of January 5. The audience treated to a festive concert under the direction of the new General Music Director Karl-Heinz Steffens and could experience internationally renowned Czech stars such as Pavel Černoch, Eva Urbanová and Prague audience favourites such as Simona Houda-Šaturová and Peter Mikuláš alongside Bayreuth debutante Lise Davidsen who was just recently crowned "Young Artist of the Year".
Hosted by Pavel Kohout, the glamorous gala evening can still be viewed on www.arte.tv. It has also marked the beginning of a four-year opera and concert series entitled "Musica Non Grata" which will combine the forces of four different Prague stages. In addition to the Státní Opera and the historic National Theatre (Národní Divadlo), the diverse program also features events staged by Nová Scéna and the historic Estates Theatre – once home to the premiere of Mozart's "Don Giovanni" and today, a popular venue for contemporary chamber operas.
With the support of the Czech Government and the German Foreign Office, "Musica Non Grata" endeavours, some 75 years after the end of the Second World War, to revive the once thriving cultural exchange between the two countries and pay tribute to the works that originated in Prague and took the world by storm during the first half of the 20th century only to be later silenced through force for political reasons. The project will be launched on May 27, 2020 with a grand concert featuring excerpts from the works scheduled to be performed in the following years. On May 28, 2020 the new production of Jaromir Weinberger's "Svanda Dudak" will constitute the first cornerstone of this series which spans multiple theatres and seasons and aims to shift the focus back to Czech-German-Jewish cultural history in Prague and reexamine that which has long since been lost. This will be illustrated with works by composers such as the long-standing Music director in Prague, Alexander von Zemlinsky, as well as by Ernst Krenek, Franz Schreker, Hans Krasa, Brno-born Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Erwin Schulhoff, Pavel Haas and Viktor Ullmann.
At the artistic initiative of newly appointed Artistic Director Per Boye Hansen, the ambitious project is supported by the two Music Directors Jaroslav Kyzlink (National Theatre) and Karl-Heinz Steffens (State Opera), the versatile Prague ensemble, as well as renowned Czech artists. But the project is also backed by international guests who ensure a program that is as exciting as it is varied with major operatic works, symphonic pieces, chamber music and song recitals, complemented by symposiums and additional research projects.
A particular focus is on music composed by women. The twenties and early thirties were also a time of emancipation for female composers. Women such as Vitezslava Kapralova, Emmy Destinn, Julie Reisserova and the Scottish-Czech composer Geraldine Mucha managed to step out of the shadow of their male colleagues at the time. And thus, this facet of musical culture which until now has been largely neglected, is to be freed from its niche existence and made accessible to a broad public. And this moreover, beyond the borders of Prague. All performances of "Musica Non Grata" will be made available digitally by streaming and some of them will be available subsequently on DVD, CD and in online archives.