Opus Osm Minutka:Their Fair Share of Baroque
The Summer Festivities of Early Music (Letní Stavnosti Staré Hudby) July 13-Aug 8 brings women of the Baroque into the spotlight.
Opus Osm’s Minutka (″Little Minute″)
Five Fast Facts about the Festival’s Eight Concerts
1 Patrons. Musicians. Singers. Yes, even composers. Women throughout music history have played all these roles, although often as an exception. So this year the festival offers ″the Eternal Woman″ as its motif. The program includes works by the first known woman composer, the Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179); pieces by the Italian Baroque composers Barbara Strozzi and Chiara Margarita Cozzolani; music inspired by the lives of female heroines of the Christian tradition (St. Cecil and Mary Magdalene); and compositions based on female mythological figures (goddesses Calisto and Terpsichore).
2 The concert at Emmauzy (Kostel Panny Marie na Slovanech) July 27 focuses on two prophets. Sibylla Tiburtina, the perhaps-mythical sybil (seer) predicted several events including an era of wealth and peace and the end of paganism. Hildegard von Bingen was an abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, and mystic. The concert features demanding choral works from her collected Riesencodex manuscript. Guest soloist Barbora Kabátková leads the Tiburtina Ensemble, accompanied by Austrian Margit Übellacker performing on the dulcemelos.
3 Marionettes will add fun to the performance of Francesco Cavalli’s Baroque opera La Calisto, at the State Opera Aug 6. Jupiter relentlessly pursues the charming nymph Callisto in this commedia dell’arte production. Beloved marionette company Buchty a Loutky (Cakes and Puppets) joins renowned soloists, protagonists Hana Blažíková as Callisto and Tomáš Král as Jupiter. Ms Blažíková will also accompany herself on the Medieval harp.
4 The Letní Stavnosti Staré Hudby summer festivities also includes a workshop July 22. ″Con Che Soavi Accenti″ (The Art of Diminutions in German and Italian Baroque Music) runs from 11 am to 1 pm. Cornettist Frithjof Smith, founding member of Les Cornets Noirs, will lecture and offer consultations on solo and ensemble performance. (An earlier workshop, “Piccoli,” May 24 offered fun activities for children, to introduce them to Baroque music. You can read about an earlier “Piccoli” here.)
5 The aim of The Summer Festivities of Early Music is to showcase music of historic artistic styles, and often offers Czech and world premieres. The festival each year finds interesting ways to combine Baroque theatre, music, and dance, with period costumes, original choreography, and Baroque gesture, rhetoric, and makeup. The festival strives to place performances in historic Prague locations (monasteries, chateaus, churches, gardens) linked to the corresponding music styles. The festival was founded in the year 2000.
Performances are: La Muse,French Baroque July 13; Laura, Renaissance Madrigals July 16; La Luna, Ibero-American music July 20; Magdalena, with Frithjof Smith July 22; Sibylla, July 27; Hemiolen, Nordic Folk Baroque July 30; Maria, Mary in Renaissance music Aug 3; and Calisto Aug 6.
– Mary Matz, Opus Osm editor
Photo Credits: Letní Slavnosti Staré Hudby