Libuše

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October 2024
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Approximate running time: 3 hours and 20 minutes, with 2 intermissions (20 minutes).

Language: In Czech, surtitles in Czech, English

 

The speculations about whether Libuše is Bedřich Smetana’s most mature work within the context of his opera oeuvre, or even within the context of Czech opera in general, whether and how it can stand its ground as against the airiness of The Bartered Bride, the lyricism and absorptive power of Dvořák’s Rusalka, or the emotion and drama of Leoš Janáček’s operas, do not result in definitive conclusions – it will always depend on the angle from which Libuše and any other renowned Czech opera is viewed.

 

The visual angle that appertains to Libuše most naturally is determined by the very intention pursued by the composer and the consequent tradition. Bedřich Smetana earmarked Libuše for being performed on the festive occasions relating to the life of Czech society, which after 1860 had begun markedly and palpably emancipating itself in terms of culture, politics and economics. Such an occasion was a seminal event in the history of Czech society – the opening of the National Theatre, first temporarily in 1881, and definitively two years later. An event that at the symbolic level widely transcended the narrow universe of Czech theatre-making and became one of the inherent harbingers of the attainment of independence in 1918. Accordingly, the centenary of the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic was a momentous anniversary for the National Theatre itself, thus affording it the opportunity to create a new production of Libuše as a natural contribution to the celebrations.

 

There are several genre attributions by means of which we try to characterise Libuše, with one of them being a “scenic ritual of conciliation and purgation”. At variance with the expectations placed on an opera dramatist, Smetana does not sharpen the conflicts and antimonies in Libuše, deliberately seeking instead the path to their timely pacific settlement. Whether it concerns the main plot-forming dispute between two brothers about the inheritance after their late father, the antagonisms between a man and a woman, rigorous justice and friendly amiability, between those of “plebeian” and “noble” decent, between the motifs of light and darkness, all the conflicts in Smetana’s opera are redeemed in the central character of Princess Libuše, who is not just a mythical sovereign foretelling glory for the Czech nation but, first and foremost, a cathartic fabulous symbol of womanhood and motherhood, clemency and peaceful life.

 

Suitable for audience from 10 years.

 

National Theatre Chorus
National Theatre Orchestra
Prague Philharmonic Children’s Choir
Charles University Choir

Program and cast

Conductor: Robert Jindra

Libuše: Dana Burešová, Mária Porubčinová

Přemysl of Stadice: Adam Plachetka, Svatopluk Sem, Jiří Brückler

Chrudoš from Otava: František Zahradníček, Martin Bárta

Šťáhlav on Radbuza: Aleš Briscein

Lutobor of Dobroslavský Chlumec: Pavel Švingr

Radovan of Kamen Most: Aleš Jenis

Krasava: Tamara Morozová

Radmila: Kateřina Jalovcová, Jana Sýkorová

First harvestman: Eva Esterková

Second harvestman: Lucie Hájková

Third harvestman: Yvona Škvárová

Fourth harvestman: Vít Šantora, Tomáš Kořínek, Petr Dvořák

 

Stage director - Jan Burian

Staging and movement collaboration - Petr Zuska

Set and Light design - Daniel Dvořák

Costumes - Kateřina Štefková

Chorus master - Pavel Vaněk

Dramaturgy - Ondřej Hučín

Photo gallery
Daniel Jäger
© Daniel Jäger
Daniel Jäger
© Daniel Jäger
Daniel Jäger
© Daniel Jäger
Daniel Jäger
© Daniel Jäger

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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