The Muse Returns to a Historic Estate
The first annual Jarmila Novotná Festival debuts Sept 8-9 at Liteň
A new, annual music festival debuts this weekend, in the backyard of Karlštejn castle. The Jarmila Novotná Festival honors the Prague dressmaker’s daughter who rose to fame as a star of The Metropolitan Opera, New York.
Jarmila Novotná’s first voice teacher was none other than the legendary soprano Emma Destinn, she appeared for 16 seasons at The Met, and sang for several US presidents. Novotná (1907-1994) married a wealthy Czech baron, Jiří Daubek, and they fled both Nazism and the Communists, finally settling in the US. (Story: Opus Osm, Mon, Aug 27.)
Highlight of the inaugural Jarmila Novotná Festival Sept 8-9 is the Gala Concert at 7 pm both Saturday and Sunday. Novotná’s grand-daughter, violinist Tatiana Daubek, will perform with internationally-known oboist Gonzalo Ruiz. The concert of Bach and Mozart also features soprano Martina Sehylová; mezzo Alžběta Vomáčková; and the Early Music ensemble Musica Florea.Tatiana Daubek earned a master’s degree in historical performance from Boston University and the Julliard School, New York. She performs with US-based ensembles Boston Baroque, the Handel Society, the Haydn Society, and others. She is instrumental in shaping the programs for the future annual festivals.
A world-renowned oboist, Mr Ruiz is originally from Argentina, is a musicologist specializing in JS Bach, and a professor at Julliard. The reconstruction of Bach’s orchestral suite for the oboe will have its European premiere at this Festival.
But the purpose of the Jarmila Novotná Festival is not only to revive the memory of the Czech opera star, according to Dita Hradecká, public relations director.
It will also offer a platform for young performers such as Martina Sehylová, a graduate of Prague Conservatory, now continuing her voice training in Italy; and Alžběta Vomáčková, a Conservatory student and laureate of the Jarmila Novotná Prize awarded at Karlovy Vary in 2011.
The Daubek estate at Liteň, the scene of prime social events of the late 19th-century, “was famous for its cultural activity in the past, and provided a shelter to a number of important Czech artists,” according to festival organizers. The Daubeks’ “neighbors” included artists such as the Mánes brothers and František Ženíšek, sculptor Václav Mylsbek, and writer Svatopluk Čech.
Therefore, another goal of cited by Festival organizers is “to revive the cultural life at Liteň,” involving the local community and attracting interested visitors to this estate located about 3 km from the Karlštejn Castle.
Accordingly, Jarmila Novotná’s son Jiří Daubek and other family members will open the Festival with a memorial at the Daubek gravesite on Saturday morning. A special presentation of scenes from The Bartered Bride and other family-oriented events will be offered that afternoon, along with a recital of Czech composers’ songs by Mrs Vomáčková at 3 pm on Sunday. — oo
– Mary Matz
Photo Credits: Top: The Jarmila Novotná Festival; bottom, Tam