UNIQUE BAROQUE PERFORMANCES IN THE HEART OF PRAGUE
Ledebour Garden below Prague Castle
daily, regardless of the weather
from the 17th June to the 3rd October 2011
Opera comprising twelve scenes with text by P. David Kopecký
The Bishop of Olomouc – Cardinal Wolfgang Hanibal von Schrattenbach liked to use his namedays and birthdays for grand theatre performances. It was one of the many regular social occasions on which he summoned leading musicians from European courts to his residences to put on opera performances. The new opera Yta Innocens by the Piarist David Kopecký was performed at the Kroměříž chateau to mark the Cardinal’s birthday on 12.9.1728. As in other similar cases, only the printed libretto has been preserved. And as in the case of other baroque operas whose music was lost, such as Epibateron (1712), Coronide (1731) and Endymio (1727), the composer, musicologist and artistic director of Ensemble Damian Tomáš Hanzlík decided to revive the old libretto. He did this twice.
In March 2003, Hanzlík completed his new opera Yta Innocens using the libretto with identical name by David Kopecký from 1728. Although the National Theatre reserved the new opera for their project “Knocking on the Iron Curtain”, the premiere was postponed to 2004. When Hanzlík found out about the delay, which meant that there would be no opera to perform at the conclusion of the Baroque festival in Olomouc, he looked for a different solution. This came two months later. When returning from the Baltic region where Ensemble Damian performed the Coronide opera by Vít Zouhar, Tomáš Hanzlík suggested to the composer Zouhar that they could work together to quickly compose a new opera for the final evening of the Baroque 2003 festival. They used the libretto for Yta Innocens once again but this time only twelve selected scenes that had not been featured in Hanzlík’s new opera. They were therefore composing a torso and decided to use this as the name of the new opera.
The composers divided equally the twelve selected parts of the opera Torso between themselves and agreed on a clearly defined affect scenario. Unlike Yta Innocens, the opera Torso has no continuous story and is intentionally composed as a partially destroyed fresco with characters whose faces have been lost.
The baroque pathos of affect scenes is highlighted by stylised gestures illustrating emotions.
Opulent costumes by Vendula Johnová add to the magnificence of isolated stories, while the sound of the baroque ensemble and musical gestures draw on musical rhetoric to ensure that viewers understand and empathize with the stories played out before them. This reminder of opera festivities offered the audience of the Baroque festival in Olomouc a journey in search of characters created by David Kopecký for the first time in almost 275 years on the 28th September 2003.
Music: Vít Zouhar, Tomáš Hanzlík
Libretto: P. David a s. Joanne Baptista – Jan Kopecký (1696 – 1758)
Directed by: Tomáš Hanzlík
Artistic production: Marek Čermák & Ensemble Damian
Costumes and set: Vendula Johnová
Tickets for Prague Baroque Festival here