1 / 6
Czech Philharmonic • Káťa Kabanová
Káťa Kabanová, a concert performance of the opera
Tichon Ivanych Kabanov
Savël Prokofjevich Dikoj
Opera Chorus of the National Theatre (concert on 09 April 2020)
Prague Philharmonic Choir (concerts on 15 and 17 April 2020)
Rudolfinum — Dvorak Hall
During the coming seasons, we want our subscription series to offer not only symphonic works, but also concert performances of major operatic works on a regular basis. Káťa Kabanová follows upon the performance of Jenůfa under Jiří Bělohlávek in 2016, and as was the case back then, the Czech Philharmonic will follow its Prague concerts of the opera with performances abroad, this time at the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg. The adapting of the performing of operas to the conditions of a symphony orchestra requires careful planning. Good operatic performances cannot be achieved following a usual weekly rehearsal schedule, and to perform at their best, singers need time between concerts for their voices to recuperate. For this reason, we scheduled the Thursday subscription concert a week earlier than the Wednesday and Friday performances. We hope that you appreciate the artistic necessity of this step and that the richness of the musical experience will compensate for any difficulties with planning your visit to the Rudolfinum. In Káťa Kabanová, Janáček’s deeply moving lyrical adaptation of Ostrovsky’s drama The Storm, the finest Czech artists will join forces under the baton of Jakub Hrůša, an experienced and popular opera conductor. The drama of the ill-fated love of the married woman Katya for Boris leads inevitably to a tragic end with the contribution of society’s prejudices and of male weakness. Káťa Kabanová, one of Janáček’s most successful operas, is played regularly at leading opera houses worldwide.
Jaroslav Březina studied at the Prague Conservatory under Zdeněk Jankovský, and after graduating further honed his technique with Václav Zítek. During his studies he became a member of the vocal group Good Evening Quintet. His concert activity is extensive, primarily as regards projects pertaining to the Baroque and Classical repertoire. He has appeared on concert stages in Japan, Austria, Norway, Italy, Germany, France and Spain. He has collaborated with conductors such as Jiří Bělohlávek, Sir Charles Mackerras, Oliver Dohnányi, Serge Baudo, Gerd Albrecht and Tomáš Netopil.
Since 1993 he has been a soloist of Prague’s National Theatre Opera, where he has created a host of roles from both the Czech and world repertoire. He featured on CD recordings of Jakub Jan Ryba’s Czech Christmas Mass (Deutsche Grammophon); Zelenka’s coronation opera Sub olea pacis et palma virtutis, which won the 2002 Cannes Classical Award; Janáčekʼs opera Šárka and Dvořákʼs opera The Stubborn Lovers (all three for Supraphon). He rendered Janáček’s song cycle The Diary of One Who Disappeared at Teatro Real Madrid, at the Moravian Autumn, Janáček Hukvaldy and Lípa Musica festivals, within the concert season of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and in the years 1998–2001 as a regular performance of this cycle at the National Theater in Prague. In 2016, he performed as Schoolmaster in Jan Latham-Koenig’s and Robert Carsen’s production of The Cunning Little Vixen in Teatro Reggio in Torino and as Števa Buryja in a concert performance of Jenůfa in Prague and London with Jiří Bělohlávek and the Czech Philharmonic. He also works with Czech Television. He was awarded the 2015 Thalia Award.
The Prague Philharmonic Choir (PPC) is a leading European vocal ensemble, and as one of the Czech Republic’s foremost artistic institutions operates under the trusteeship of the Czech Ministry of Culture. In the course of the choir’s long history since its foundation in 1935, it has been directed by a succession of some of the most distinguished Czech choirmasters (including among others Jan Kühn, Josef Veselka and Pavel Kühn). Since 2007 its principal choirmaster has been Lukáš Vasilek.
The PPC’s repertoire is centered primarily around oratorio and cantata works. In their presentation, the choir has worked with eminent international orchestras (e.g., Czech Philharmonic, the Berliner Philharmoniker, Wiener Symphoniker, among others), and conductors (including Daniel Barenboim, Jakub Hrůša, Tomáš Netopil, Zubin Mehta or Sir Simon Rattle). Beyond its standard choral repertoire, the PPC is likewise active in the domain of opera, working regularly with the National Theater in Prague, and since 2010 holding the status of choir in residence at the opera festival of Bregenz, Austria.
Apart from these commitments, the PPC engages in a number of its own projects. Since 2011 it has organized its own choral concert series in Prague, with a program focused notably on presentations of less well known choral works, either a cappella or with chamber-scale instrumental accompaniment. The choir regards as an inseparable part of its activity educational endeavours targeting the young generations. In this context, it has been involved in organizing a Choral Academy for students of singing, a project aimed at enabling young artists to acquire practical skills through work with a professional vocal ensemble.
The PPCʼs many commitments in the 2019/2020 season include among others concert appearances at the Dvořák Prague and Prague Spring festivals, a tour in Hong Kong, a performance in Moscowʼs new concert hall, Zaryadye, as well as debut appearances at the Salzburg Easter Festival, with Staatskapelle Dresden and Christian Thielemann, or at the Elbphilharmonie hall, with the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Jakub Hrůša, and with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra under the baton of Alan Gilbert. The PPC will bring its 85th season to a close by appearances at several festivals, including Smetana Litomyšl, St. Gallen Festival in Switzerland, and the opera festival in Bregenz, Austria. The Prague Philharmonic Choir is the recipient of the 2018 Classic Prague Award for Best Vocal Concert, and Czech Televisionʼs Classical Music of the Year Award.
The baritone Jiří Brückler completed his vocal studies at the Prague Conservatoire under Jiří Kotouč and at the Academy of Performing Arts under Roman Janál. Already as a student he was making guest appearances at the State Opera in Prague. Victory at the Antonín Dvořák International Singing Competition in Karlovy Vary earned him the opportunity of long-term engagements with opera houses in his native Liberec, and in Pilsen and Brno, where he appeared at first in minor roles. Later he obtained a key engagement at Prague’s State Opera and National Theatre. He is gradually building up a repertoire of leading baritone roles in the worldwide repertoire – The Marriage of Figaro, The Magic Flute, The Barber of Seville, Cinderella, Faust, Romeo and Juliet, Eugene Onegin, The Jacobin, and Werther. He has been repeatedly honoured with nominations for Thalia Awards (for portrayals of Silvia in Pagliacci and of Rodrigo in Don Carlos). He also sings in operas by Janáček, Martinů, and Britten as well as new works by contemporary composers. Jiří Brückler has been honoured by invitations to collaborate with the world famous artists José Cura and Plácido Domingo.
Slovak bass Jozef Benci finished his studies in the class of Sergej Kopčák at the Bratislava Academy in 2003. In 2001 he won the prestigious International Singing Competition of George Enescu in Bucharest. In 2006, he won the Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg International Competition for young singers in Berlin. In 2002, he was engaged as a soloist of the State Opera Banská Bystrica. In 2004 he made his stage debut at the Slovak National Theatre Opera House in Bratislava in the role of Zaccaria (Nabucco). In 2007 he became the soloist of this leading Slovak opera scene. He also performed in other opera and concert performances both in his native Slovakia and in the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, France, Romania, Italy, Austria, Poland and Germany. In 2011 he received critical acclaim for the role of Kecal in a concert version of Smetanaʼs The Bartered Bride, conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek and performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Londonʼs Barbican Hall. This performance was later released on a CD by Harmonia Mundi. In 2011 he presented for Bratislava Music Festival for together vocal´s recital with coloratura star soprano Edita Gruberova. In 2012 he studied bass part of famous Requiem by Verdi with aconducting legend Nello Santi.
Kateřina Kněžíková, born 1982 in Bohumín, graduated from Prague Conservatory in 2007 and in 2010 she completed her university degree at Music and Dance Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague as a student of Jiřina Přívratská. She has been the prize-winner of numerous competitions, for example Antonín Dvořák’s International Singing Competition in Karlovy Vary.
In 2005, Kateřina Kněžíková made her debut in the National Theatre in Prague in the role of Zerlina and she has been a permanent cast member thereof since 2006. This is where her operatic engagements over recent years include roles such as Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Serpetta (La Finta giardiniera), Servilia (La Clemenza di Tito), Blonde (Entführung aus dem Serail), Despina (Cosí fan tutte), Ilja (Idomeneo), Almirena (Rinaldo), Adina (Elisir d’amore), Barče (Hubička), Terinka (Jakobín), Nannetta (Falstaff), Aristea (L’Olimpiade) and many others.
She made her guest appearance in F. X. Šalda Theatre Liberec, J. K. Tyl Theatre in Pilsen, National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava, Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, Theatre de Caen, Opéra Royal de Versailles, Theatre Royal de La Monnaie in Brussels and Opéra de Dijon.
She has been performing in productions of various directors - D. Beneš, Karl-Ernst and Ursel Herrmann, J. Heřman, L. Keprtová, L. Moaty, J. Nekvasil, V. Věžník etc.
Her professional concert and operatic engagements have involved work with conductors such as S. Baudo, J. Bělohlávek, A. Fisch, J. Gaffigan, M. Honeck, H. M. Förster, J. Hrůša, R. Jindra, V. Luks, E. Mazzola, J. Nelson, T. Netopil and outstanding orchestras including BBC Symphony orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, Collegium 1704, Czech Philharmonic, Hessischer Rundfunk Frankfurt am Main, PKF - Prague Philharmonia, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and many others.
She regularly makes her appearance at prestigious international festivals in the Czech Republic and abroad (Dvořákova Praha International Music Festival, International Music Festival Janáček Máj, Prague Spring International Music Festival, International Opera Festival Smetana’s Litomyšl, St. Venceslav Music Festival, Strings of Autumn, Festival de La Chaise-Dieu, Festival Rencontres Musicales de Vétzelay, Festival Baroque de Pontoise, Music Bridge Prague – Dresden, Uckermärkische Musikwochen, Tage Alte Musik Regensburg etc.).
She made recordings for Czech Radio, television channel MEZZO and Belgian radio station RTFB International. She recorded Bartered Bride by Bedřich Smetana for HARMONIA MUNDI and her recording of Dove é amore é gelosia produced for OPUS ARTE DVD was awarded “Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik“.
Among plans of Czech tenor Ales Briscein are new productions of Eugene Onegin at the Komische Oper Berlin and of Janacek’s From the House of the Dead at Savonlinna Opera Festival, as well as concert performances of Jenufa underJiri Belohlavek with Czech Philharmonic in London and of Vec Makropulos alsounder Jiri Belohlavek at the BBC Proms. He will be on tour in Japan with State Opera Prague as Pollione in Bellini’s Norma, and in Hong Kong with National Theatre of Brrno as Alber Gregor in Vek Makropulos and with the Glagolitic Mass.
In 2017 he will give his role debut in the title role of Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg in Graz and sing a new production Lohengrin at Prague National Theatre conducted by John Fiore.
In spring 2018 he will return to Munich State Opera for a new production From the House of the Dead, where he will perform the part of Filka Morozov.
Besides this he is guesting at many theatres and festivals of his home country in roles like Jiri in Dvorak‘s Jakobin, Ladislav in Smetana‘s Two widows, Prince in Rusalka, Conte di Albafloria in Martinu‘s Mirandolina, as Jaromér in Fibich’s Pád Arkuna, as Lukas in Smetana’s The Kiss, as Alfredo in La Traviata, in the title role of Lohengrin or 2015 as Pollione in Bellini’s Norma.
in 2015 he debuted in the part of Königssohn in Humperdinck’s Königskinder at Opera Frankfurt, performed Laca in Janacek’s Jenufa at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna and sang Stravinskiy’s Les Noces in Rome. 2013/14 he guested in new productions of Così fan tutte at the Komische Oper and of Jenufa in Graz. 2013 he was heard as Andrej in Tchaikowsky’s Mazeppa at the Komische Oper Berlin and as Steva in Jenufa at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.
In summer 2012 he had a huge success in the title role of Wagner’s Lohengrin at the Tyrolean Festival in Erl under Gustav Kuhn and sang Smetana’s seldom performed opera Two Widows in Angers and Nantes.
In summer 2011 he debuted at Salzburg Festival in a new production Vec Makropulos conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and staged by Christoph Marthaler.
He also was heard in Nürnberg, Vancouver, Tokyo, Cyprus, Lille, Caen, Antwerp, Valencia, Vienna, London and Frankfurt.
Ales Briscein started his career as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte in Prague, where in the meantime he has sung many roles and where he is performing regularly.
For many years he regularly guested at Opéra de Bastille in Paris, where he was heard as, among others, Brighella in Ariadne auf Naxos, Kedril in From the House of the dead, Ein junger Diener in Elektra, Hirt/Junger Seemann in Tristan und Isolde, Valzacchi in Der Rosenkavalier, Janek in Vec Makropulos, Jeník in The bartered bride, Jaquino in Fidelio and as Kudriash in Kát‘a Kabanova.
Ales Briscein works with conductors such as Christoph von Dohnanyi, Sir Charles Mackeras, Valeri Gergiev, Jiri Belohlavek, John Fiore, Sylvain Cambreling, Kent Nagano, Tomas Netopil, Esa Pekka Salonen, or David Zinman
Jakub Hrůša is Chief Conductor of the Bamberg Symphony, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.
He is a frequent guest with the world’s greatest orchestras, including the Vienna, Berlin, Munich and New York Philharmonics; Bavarian Radio, NHK, Chicago and Boston Symphonies; Leipzig Gewandhaus, Lucerne Festival, Royal Concertgebouw, Mahler Chamber and The Cleveland Orchestras; Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and Tonhalle Orchester Zürich. He has led opera productions for the Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Opéra National de Paris, and Zurich Opera. He has also been a regular guest with Glyndebourne Festival and served as Music Director of Glyndebourne On Tour for three years.
His recording of Martinů and Bartók violin concertos with Bamberg Symphony was nominated for a Gramophone Award, and his Dvořák Violin Concerto CD with the Bavarian Radio Symphony was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 2020, his recordings of Dvořák and Martinů Piano Concertos with Bamberg Symphony, and Vanessa from Glyndebourne, won BBC Music Magazine Awards. Other releases include Dvořák and Brahms Symphonies with Bamberg Symphony, Suk’s Asrael with the Bavarian Radio Symphony, and Dvořák’s Requiem and Te Deum with the Czech Philharmonic.
Hrůša studied at Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts, where his teachers included Jiří Bělohlávek. He is President of the International Martinů Circle and The Dvořák Society. He was the inaugural recipient of the Sir Charles Mackerras Prize, and in 2020 was awarded the Antonín Dvořák Prize by the Czech Republic’s Academy of Classical Music, and – with Bamberg Symphony – the Bavarian State Prize for Music.
Lukáš Vasilek, principal conductor of the Prague Philharmonic Choir, studied conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and musicology at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. For eleven seasons from 1998 he was conductor of the Foerster Female Chamber Choir, and between 2005 and 2007 was also second choirmaster of the Prague National Theatreʼs opera chorus. He took up his post at the helm of the Prague Philharmonic Choir in 2007. Apart from preparing and conducting the choirʼs a cappella concert productions, he has been building up the Prague Philharmonic Choirʼs repertoire set for participation in large-scale cantata, oratorio and opera projects, working with leading international conductors (such as Barenboim, Bělohlávek, Eschenbach, Honeck, Hrůša, Jordan, Luisi, Mehta, Noseda and Rattle) and orchestras (including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Czech Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden or Wiener Symphoniker). Since 2010, the Prague Philharmonic Choir under Vasilekʼs direction has guest appeared regularly at the opera festival in Bregenz, Austria.
Lukáš Vasilek has made numerous recordings with the Prague Philharmonic Choir for various major labels, including Decca Classics, Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical and Supraphon. In 2016, the last mentioned of these issued an album of Bohuslav Martinů’s cantatas which was nominated for the BBC Music Magazine’s annual award in the choral category, among other plaudits.
Peter Berger was born in Slovakia, and studied singing at The Košice Conservatorium of Music with Mgr. Juraj Šomorjai. While still a student, he appeared as a soloist at the Košice State theatre. He has taken part in Vocal Masterclasses with many renowed teachers, including Peter Dvorský, Eva Blahová, and Ryszard Karczykowski.
Recent engagements include Laca/Jenufa at Scottish National Opera and Danish National Opera, Prince/Rusalka in Santiago and Tokyo; performing Janacek’s Glagolitic Mass and Dvorak’s Te Deum under Jaroslav Kyzlink with the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra, and singing Boris/Katja Kabanova with the Danish National Opera.
Future engagements include a.o. singing Laca/Jenufa in Santiago in May 2017, Prince/Rusalka in Rome and Svanda at Teatro Massimo di Palermo. He will also perform Laca/Jenufa and Te Deum at Teatro Massimo di Palermo.
The 2010/11 season included performances in Brno, Prague and Bratislava, singing the roles of Michel and Jenik (Bartered Bride), Lenski, the Prince, Alfredo (La Traviata), Pinkerton, Nemorino (L’elisir d’Amore), the Italian Tenor (Rosenkavalier), Rodolfo (La Boheme) and Jiří (The Jacobin) . His concert work included Beethoven’s Mass in C at the Janacek Festival in Ostrawa and Bruckner’s Te Deum in Brno. He made his highly successful debut at the Wexford Festival as Lukas in Smetana’s Hubicka (“This is a career to watch - the confident freedom of his singing, not least in his thrilling performance of his great scena at the beginning of Act 2 kept us on the edge of our seats.").
In the 2007/8 season Peter Berger made his debut with The Slovak National Theater in Bratislava as Pinkerton in Peter Konwitschny’s production of Madama Butterfly under Oliver Dohnányi. In 2008 he sang the title role in Faust at the Croatian National Theatre in Split, and in the same season he made his debut in the role of the Prince in Rusalka at The National Theatre Brno. This was the start of Peter‘s association with this theatre, where he has been a soloist since the 2008/9 season in roles including Ismael in Nabucco, Alfredo in La Traviata, Lenski in Eugene Onegin and Michel in Martinů’s Julietta. In 2009 Peter made his first guest appearances at the National Theatre and the State Opera Prague in the roles of Pinkerton and the Prince in Rusalka respectively. In 2010 he sang Lenski in Bremen opera to great acclaim, and subsequently made his debut at the Teatr Wielki in Lodz as the Prince.
In addition to his operatic work Peter Berger is a prolific concert artist, and has sung with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra as well as the State Philharmonic Košice, Prague Philharmonia, Brno Philharmonic, Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Czech Virtuosi. He has performed in many domestic and foreign concerts as well as being a permanent guest at the festival “Viva il Canto“ in Czeszyn, Poland and at the international festival in Sopron, Hungary. His concert repertoire includes the Glagolitic Mass, Puccini’s Messa Di Gloria, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, the Mozart Requiem and Masses as well as Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. He sang in a Gala concert with Jelena Obraztsova and Peter Dvorský, and concert performances have also taken him to Japan, Malta, and Riga.
In 2006 he was awarded 1st prize at The Mikuláš Schneider-Trnavský International Vocal Competition in Trnava (SK) and also won a special prize for the best interpretation of Mikuláš Schneider-Trnavský songs. In 2007 he was awarded 1st prize at the Anglo Czecho-Slovak Trust competition in London, and in 2008 he was a semi-finalist at International Hans Gabor Belvedere Competition in Vienna. He was also awarded The Slovak Literary fund prize for the role of the Prince in Rusalka.