Opera Nás Baví Means We Like Opera
The theatre is full of children, with their parents and grandparents. We’re here to learn about Czech composer Zdeněk Fibich’s opera. But who really knows what to expect?
While we wait to begin, we can only observe the beautiful space in the National Theatre this Nov 9th, and the commotion around it. But this commotion has a certain order.
The founder of Children’s Opera Prague, Prof. Jiřina Marková’s littlest opera company, presents classical music for children in the “We Like Opera” series at the National Theatre.
It playfully shows everything that comprises opera and connects it with theatre, and each meeting presents one remarkable composer and the era he lived in. The most interesting parts are staged excerpts from the composer‘s works.
This day the topic is Czech composer Zdeněk Fibich (1850-1900) and his most frequently performed opera, Šárka. Prof. Marková retells the contents; the children listen to samples from an old gramophone recording of the famous opera soprano Marie Podvalová (1909-1992) and tenor Beno Blachut (1913-1985). The young singers from Children’s Opera Prague and local music academies also show their performance ability with bits from other Fibich operas.
The goal is to make young people listen, perceive, distinguish, and understand what they can get from these operas. Children just incidentally pick up basic musical knowledge, even though many of them already have some musical education.
A competition is also part of the whole programme – it’s only for sweets, but that makes the young audience all the more desperate. The designer Jiří Votruba, creator of the stage set and a booklet and card game for today, acts as a referee during the competitions.
The main question is: How does he make his drawings? None of the children can figure it out; they think that he uses crayons, markers, oil, or tempera paint. But it is done on computer. The children are surprised that a computer is quite important for stage production.
I do not know whether visiting one performance is enough in this cycle that tries to draw kids into the richness of opera music and the works of world and Czech composers. I can only recommend attending the next parts of this cycle, definitely accompanied by an open-minded schoolchild.
The National Theatre’s “Opera nás baví / We Like Opera” series is based on a book of the same title by Jiřina Marková. Filmed episodes can still be found on Czech Television’s video archive. The next live performance, on Baroque Opera, is Dec 14 at the Estates Theatre.
– Jana Mlezivová, Opus Osm guest writer