Wednesday, Dec 7, 2011: Taste / Test (2)

Students will perform comic opera excerpts, like this earlier performance of Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen.

Taste / Test (Take Two)

If you’re curious about opera but a little afraid to commit to a full production, you can sample a variety of short excerpts from three Smetana operas this Friday (Dec 9).

However, what will be just a taste for you will be a test for the performers.

That’s because “Bedřich Smetana: Scenes and Excerpts” at the Prague Conservatory is part of the students’ compulsory subject, acting for the opera. “Sometimes students prepare only shorter parts of operas, sometimes a complete opera,” explains Aleš Kaňka, deputy director of the Conservatory.

This time, you can dip into samples of three comic operas, The Bartered Bride, The Kiss, and The Devil’s Wall. Next semester, Mr Kaňka tells Opus Osm, students will perform the European premiere of the mini-opera parody of Blue Monday by George Gershwin.

So what can you expect from this Friday’s performance?

About a dozen vocal students will perform the excerpts to piano accompaniment in the Conservatory’s new theatre (Divadlo Na Redjšti) starting at 7:30 pm. They will have simplified costumes and props for about half a dozen 10-minute scenes from these operas:

The Bartered Bride (Prodaná Nevěsta, 1866) is perhaps Smetana’s most-often performed, and accessible, opera. It’s an exuberant love story complete with the necessary hero, villains, schemers, meddlers, and hidden identities – revealed just in the nick of time.

The Kiss (Hubička, 1876) can be summarized as much ado about the eternal question: to kiss before or after marriage?

The Devil’s Wall (Čertova Stěna, 1882) is more accurately a comic-drama. It’s based on a legend about the sheer rock face on the Vltava River in South Bohemia. A monastery there remains unfinished because the Devil dammed the river and flooded construction.

The performances promise to be a great way to get introduced to some Smetana operas – no matter which side of the curtain you’re on. — oo

– Mary Matz

Photo Credits: Prague Conservatory website

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