The Secret

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National Theatre Chorus
National Theatre Orchestra

The Secret is Bedřich Smetana’s seventh, and penultimate, opera. It is also the second fruit of the composer’s collaboration with the librettist Eliška Krásnohorská. Completed in June 1877, the piece received its premiere the following year at the New Czech Theatre in Prague. The National Theatre first staged the opera on 12 May 1885, on the first anniversary of Smetana’s death. Yet it only attained wide popularity after the post of the opera company’s director had been assumed by the conductor Karel Kovařovic, who was fully aware of the qualities of the mature Smetana work. Krásnohorská furnished Smetana with an exquisite libretto, whose themes may bring to mind William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet or the Czech author Ladislav Stroupežnický’s play Our Uppish and Defiant Fellows, dating from a later time. The story, set in a small Czech town, focuses on a feud between the families of the councillors Malina and Kalina, who for years have jostled for social superiority. Kalina strives to prove that he is not as poor as he was two decades ago, when Malina thwarted him when he wanted to marry his sister Róza. Despite the hostility between their fathers, Malina’s daughter Blaženka and Kalina’s son Vít love each other. All disputes are ultimately settled after the discovery of an old note by Friar Barnabáš, which leads Kalina to a treasure. But are piles of gold the most precious thing to be found? Smetana’s The Secret has been undertaken by Ondřej Havelka, a stage director possessing an acute sense for music theatre and humour, noted for his visually captivating storytelling. The production will be conducted by Robert Jindra, the music director of the National Theatre Opera.

The production is part of the celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of Bedřich Smetana’s birth.

Program and cast

Conductor

Robert
Jindra

Jan
Chalupecký

Malina

Zdeněk
Plech

František
Zahradníček

Kalina

Svatopluk
Sem

Adam
Plachetka

Miss Róza

Lucie
Hilscherová

Jana
Kurucová

 

Blažena

Markéta
Klaudová

Jana
Sibera

Vít

Petr
Nekoranec

Aleš
Briscein

Bonifác

Pavel
Švingr

Skřivánek

Martin
Šrejma

Josef
Moravec

Master bricklayer

Csaba
Kotlár

Jiří
Hájek

Innkeeper

Maria
Kobielska

Tamara
Morozová

Jirka

Daniel
Matoušek

Petr
Levíček

Ghost of Friar Barnabáš

Jiří
Sulženko

Miloš
Horák

Creatives

Stage director

Ondřej Havelka

Set designs

Martin Černý

Chorus master

Lukáš Kozubík

Dramaturgy

Beno Blachut

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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