Clothes make the man

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February 2023 Next
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About

State opera Chorus
State opera Orchestra

The Austrian composer Alexander Zemlinsky possessed an acute sense of wry humour. He found in the Swiss author Gottfried Keller’s story from the collection Die Leute von Seldwyla (The People of Seldwyla), blending strands of allegoric fairy tale, satire and irony, an ideal subject for his opera Kleider machen Leute (Clothes Make the Man), a music comedy about hypocrisy. Zemlinsky depicts the adventure of Wenzel Strapinski, a tailor’s apprentice, who arrives in a small provincial town whose denizens, due to his fashionable clothes and noble parlance, deem him to be a count. The local notables pamper the newcomer, invite him to lavish parties and shower him with gifts. Strapinski even gets engaged to the town administrator’s daughter, who falls in love with the mysterious romantic stranger...

How does the story about the clothes that make the man end? Featuring splendid rhythmic motifs, striking harmonic inversions and combinations of orchestral colours, Zemlinsky’s music wittily renders the micro-world of the provincial town, its inhabitants, their selfishness, stupidity and envy,  the banality of their conversations, and even such details as the smell of coffee and tobacco smoke. “I sew and sew, we need burghers and dandies in tail-coats, soldiers, doctors and all the others! Only clothes make the man”, sings Zemlinsky’s hero, whose folk melody passes throughout the opera as the key musical and semantic leitmotif. The opera’s original version premiered in 1910 at the Wiener Volksoper, conducted by the composer himself. In 1922, Zemlinsky presented its revised version at the Neues deutsches Theater (today’s State Opera) in Prague, where he held the post of Opera director. Now, more than a century later, the piece is returning to the venue where its second and final version was first performed. Our new adaptation of Kleider machen Leute has been undertaken by the Dutch stage director Jetske Mijnssen, who has garnered acclaim in Berlin (Komische Oper), Amsterdam, Zurich, Graz, etc.

The production is part of the Musica non grata cycle.

Program and cast

Cast

Conductor

Giedrė
Šlekytė

Creatives

Concept and Stage direction

Jetske Mijnssen

Sets

Herbert Murauer

Costume design

Julia Berndt

Choreography

Dustin Klein

Lighting design

Bernd Purkrabek

Prague State Opera

The State Opera today

 

The State Opera (formerly the State Opera Prague, between 1948 and 1992 the Smetana Theatre, and originally the New German Theatre) has been a part of the National Theatre since 2012. The Opera and Ballet ensembles give repertory performances at the State Opera.

 

History

 

The Prague State Opera resides in the building which on January 5, 1888 was opened as a Prague German stage with the performance of Wagner’s opera, The Mastersingers of Nürnberg. In the 19th century, Prague Germans performed in the Estate’s Theater in alternation with a Czech company. Desire for their own theater led to negotiations in 1883 for the construction of a new theater building for the German Theater Association. Over the next three years, a blueprint was drawn up and handed over to the Vienna atelier of Fellner and Hellmer. Also sharing in the design was the architect of the Vienna Municipal Theater, Karl Hasenauer, while Prague architect Alfons Wertmüller took part in the construction. Financing came from private collections. With its spacious auditorium and neo-Rococo decoration, this theater building is among the most beautiful in Europe.

 

Access:

 

By car

On Wilsonova street, from the left lane close to the State Opera building take the slip road to the Slovan above-ground garage. The parking fee is 40 CZK/h.

 

By tram

 

By daytime tram No. 11 to the stop “Muzeum”, through the underpass beneath Legerova street in the direction of the NationalMuseum, at the crossroads turn right along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.

 

By daytime trams Nos. 3, 9, 14 and 24 or night trams Nos. 51, 52, 54, 55, 56 and 58 to the stop “Václavské náměstí”, then by foot uphill on the left side of the Wenceslas Square to the traffic lights across Wilsonova and Vinohradská streets. Then turn left along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.

 

By metro

To the “Muzeum” station, lines A and C (green and red), and then by foot along the NewBuilding of the NationalMuseum.

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