Visits Inside the Spotlight

Opus Osm

Like brothers at the piano, Jaroslav Šaroun and Tomáš Víšek perform a lively piece by Ilja Hurník at the 589th 'Beseda.'

Those of us who go to performances and always sit on the dark side of the hall have a unique chance to share the warmth of the spotlight. A little.

Prague offers three annual events that are billed like regular performances. But after going to them, you might have noticed that these were somehow just a little different … special … with a unique kind of warmth.

That’s because the performers – at Miniatures, a beseda, and “Mozart’s Birthday” — perform mainly for the other performers who are in the audience. It’s like the family puts on a show, for the rest of the family.

And you’re invited.

Miniatures May 7

Every spring, some of the young dancers and perhaps a budding choreographer or two from the Czech National Ballet company present their own, original, short choreographies. The dancers are their own colleagues from the company. Miniatures gives dancers the opportunity to explore another possible career choice, testing their “legs” by not only performing but creating a dance.

What can you look for in the performance? An exploration of dance from fresh, young perspectives. It’s fun to look around the audience, too, and to do a little star-spotting before or after the performance. You may recognize a prima ballerina or two in street clothes.

And you’ll enjoy the especially warm applause and shouts of “Brava!” offered up by ones of their own, for ones of their own.

Miniatures is scheduled to be presented May 7 at the New Stage (Nová Scéna).

Umělecká Beseda at Prague Spring

Beseda is an old Czech word for society or association. Today you can find the word not only on the famous building and restaurant at Malostranské Náměstí, but also as the name for small, local artistic societies. But these aren’t as snobby they might sound. The Umělecká Beseda is more like a gentle talk show. A famous person comes to the meeting of the members, tells about his or her life and art, and then the members ask questions.

This Beseda also has a “mayor” who’s in charge of things, and three “department heads,” one each for music, fine art, and literature. (The director of its first music department, 150 years ago, was Bedřich Smetana. Today, its mayor is composer Lukáš Matoušek.)

As in Miniatures, there is a special atmosphere created in this almost family-like gathering. You can take part in the 591st and 592nd Tuesday meetings of the historic Umělecká Beseda by being part of the audience at their two Prague Spring Concerts featuring all-Czech composers. Guests The Stamic Quartet and The Prague Wind Quartet will play at 8 pm May 21 at St Agnes’ Convent; Ars Cameralis will perform the following Tuesday at the same place and time.

Mozart’s Birthday

Every January 27 at The Theatre of the Estates, musicians perform a tribute to this composer who actually worked at this theatre. This year “Mozart’s Birthday” featured arias by feisty soprano Marie Fajtová, tender contralto Michaela Kapustová, the precise singing of tenor Jaroslav Březina, and the expressiveness of bass Miloš Horák. They performed selections from Figaro, The Magic Flute, Cosi fan Tutte, and the Coronation Mass, with the National Theatre Chorus and Orchestra. The music blossomed.

We don’t yet know the program for Mozart’s 2014 birthday; but at least we can be sure of the date and place. — oo

– Mary Matz

Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička

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