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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 is the most important and oldest professional mixed choir in the Czech Republic. During its long history, there has been a succession of the most important Czech choirmasters at its helm; since 2007, the chief choirmaster has been Lukáš Vasilek, and the second choirmaster is currently Lukáš Kozubík.
The Prague Philharmonic Choir performs mainly the oratorio and cantata repertoire in collaboration with the world most famous orchestras (the Berliner Philharmoniker, Czech Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden or Wiener Symphoniker, among others) led by such illustrious conductors as Sir Simon Rattle, Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta, Fabio Luisi, Semyon Bychkov, Jiří Bělohlávek, and Jakub Hrůša. It also performs in opera as an ensemble-in-residence at the opera festival in Bregenz, Austria.
The choir is realising several projects of its own. Since 2011 it has been presenting an independent series of choral concerts in Prague, with its programming focused mainly on challenging, lesser-known works of the choral repertoire. Music education for young people is an integral part of the choir’s activities, with a Choral Academy for vocal students and a series of educational concerts for younger children.
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“.
Aleš Briscein studied clarinet, saxophone and opera singing at the Prague Conservatory. He has participated in prestigious festivals (Edinburgh International Festival or Prague Spring) and collaborated with outstanding orchestras and conductors, including Christoph von Dohnányi, Valery Gergiev, Sir John Eliot Gardiner or Tomáš Netopil.
Recent highlights include Der fliegende Holländer in Prague, War and Peace in Geneva, Makropulos Affair at Salzburg Festival, Dalibor and Die Königskinder in Frankfurt, Die tote Stadt in Berlin and Dresden, From the House of the Dead in Munich, Wozzeck in Vienna, Jenůfa in Bologna, Così fan tutte and Mazeppa in Berlin, Lohengrin in Erl and Two Widows in Angers and Nantes. His concert repertoire includes, among others, Mahler’s 8th symphony, Beethoven's 9th symphony and Missa solemnis, Dvořák’s Stabat mater, as well as Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass, or Stravinsky’s Les Noces.
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 studied conducting and musicology. Since 2007 he has been the chief choirmaster of the Prague Philharmonic Choir. Most of his artistic activity with the choir involves rehearsing and performing a cappella repertoire along with preparing the choir to perform in large-scale cantata, oratorio, and opera projects in collaboration with world-famous conductors and orchestras (Berlin Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Saint Petersburg Philharmonic etc.).
Besides his work with the Prague Philharmonic Choir, he also engages in other performing activities mainly in cooperation with the Martinů Voices, which he founded in 2010. He is credited as a conductor or choirmaster on a large number of Prague Philharmonic Choir recordings made for important international labels (Decca Classics, Supraphon). In recent years, he has been devoting himself systematically to recording the choral music of Bohuslav Martinů. His recordings have won exceptional acclaim abroad, earning honours including awards from the prestigious journals Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine, and Diapason.
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.