Jenufa

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September 2024
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After a very long and complicated genesis, the opera ultimately triumphed at Czech and foreign theatres. Jenůfa was the piece that gained Janáček global acclaim and renown as an opera creator. With his profound sense for earthy drama, as well as immense compassion, the composer depicts human relationships formed by the harsh milieu of a self-contained rural community, with its inhabitants’ lives being exposed to the constant gaze of others. This conservative environment affects the fate of the young Jenůfa, and above all governs the behaviour of her stepmother Kostelnička, who at any cost strives to retain her reputation as a virtuous, moral woman and the villagers’ respect. Paradoxically, she does so by secretly murdering Jenůfa’s extramarital child.

Leoš Janáček was deeply impressed by the realist drama of the same name by the Czech author Gabriela Preissová, premiered in 1890 to a lukewarm response. The writer initially rejected the composer’s intention to set her play to music, yet five years later Janáček adapted the text into a libretto – notably, he retained the prose form, thus becoming one of the pioneers of opera not sung in verse. The composer completed the work at the beginning of 1903. Due to his personal disputes with the principal conductor, Karel Kovařovic, the National Theatre refused to perform the opera. Consequently, Jenůfa was taken up by Brno, where on 21 January 1904 it received its triumphant world premiere. The National Theatre in Prague would only give its first performance 12 years later. Subsequently, the opera was staged in Vienna (1918) and other major cultural centres. In December 1924, its American premiere was held at the Metropolitan Opera, which presented it with Max Brod’s German libretto. At the present time, Jenůfa is a staple of the repertoire of numerous opera houses worldwide.

 

National Theatre Chorus
National Theatre Orchestra
National Theatre Opera Ballet 

Program and cast

Conductor: Robert Jindra

Kostelnička: Eva Urbanová

Jenůfa: Alžběta Poláčková

Laca: Štefan Margita; Aleš Briscein

Aleš: Briscein

Števa: Richard Samek

Grandmother: Yvona Škvárová

Foreman: Ivan Kusnjer

Mayor: Zdeněk Plech

Mayor's Wife: Lucie Hájková

Shepherdess: Stanislava Jirků

Karolka:Marie Šimůnková

Jano: Zuzana Koś Kopřivová

Barena: Yukiko Kinjo

Auntie: Romana Kajzlerová

Man: Josef Brozman

 

Creative team

Libretto- Leoš Janáček

Stage director- Jiří Nekvasil

Sets and costumes - Daniel Dvořák

Motion cooperation- Števo Capko

Chorus master- Pavel Vaněk

Dramaturgy - Pavel Petráněk

 

Approximate running time: 2 hours 40 minutes, 2 intermission (20 minutes) minutes

Language: In Czech, surtitles in English, German

Prague National Theatre

The National Theatre today

 

The historical building of the National Theatre, constructed in 1883, is generally considered the prime stage in the CzechRepublic. It is the flagship of the National Theatre institution, today amounting to five buildings and encompassing four companies. You can see there Opera, Drama and Ballet performances.

 

Idea of building a stately theatre for the Czech nation

 

The National Theatre is the embodiment of the will of the Czech nation for a national identity and independence. Collections of money among the broad mass of the people facilitated its construction and hence the ceremonial laying of its foundation stone on 16 May 1868 was tantamount a nationwide political manifestation.

 

The idea of building a stately edifice to serve as a theatre was first mooted in the autumn of 1844 at meetings of patriots in Prague. It began to materialise through a request for “the privilege of constructing, furnishing, maintaining and managing” an independent Czech theatre, which was submitted to the Provincial Committee of the Czech Assembly by František Palacký on 29 January 1845. The privilege was granted in April 1845. Yet it was not until six years later – in April 1851 – that the Society for the Establishment of a Czech National Theatre in Prague (founded in the meantime) made its first public appeal to start collections. A year later the proceeds of the first collections allowed for the purchase of land belonging to a former salt works with the area of less than 28 acres, which predetermined the magnificent location of the theatre on the bank of the river Vltava facing the panorama of Prague Castle, yet at the same time the cramped area and trapezoidal shape posed challenging problems for the building’s designers.
 

By car

To the centre (OldTown), approach on Masarykovo nábřeží (Masaryk embankment) in the direction from the Dancing House, at the crossroads in front of the National Theatre turn right to Divadelní street and then right again to Ostrovní street to the National Theatre car park. Parking costs 50 CZK/h.

 

By tram

By daytime trams Nos. 6, 9, 18 and 22 and night trams Nos. 53, 57, 58, 59 to the stop “Národní divadlo” – in front of the NT historical building; by daytime tram No. 17 to the stop “Národní divadlo”.

 

By metro

To the station “Můstek”, line B (yellow), and then by foot on Národní street; or to the station “Karlovo náměstí” and then two stops by tram No. 6, 18 or 22 to the stop “Národní divadlo”. To the station “Staroměstská”, line A (green), and then two stops by tram No. 17 to the stop “Národní divadlo”. 

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