Monday, 22 November 2010

Le Nozze with Plachetka - Standing Ovations at the Estates Theatre

Adam Plachetka, Kateřina Kněžíková.
Photo: National Theatre
Tripple good luck: I'm subscribed to the National Theatre on Facebook, where they announced that Adam Plachetka, who's now singing in Vienna, would make a special appearance in Prague; and there were two seats left in the centre of the second row! Moreover, the places before us were empty for the first two acts, so we could admire the full stretch of the conductor, Mr. Jan Chalupecký, who not only did great job, but was also fun to watch.

I saw this production more than a year ago, and then I had a few objections - I didn't like the scene of "Non più andrai", the way how Figaro and others behave to Cherubino, and some actions of Rosina in Act II. (namely the obligatory rolling on the floor in a gown, which I find as one of the most annoying clichés in opera direction). HOWEVER this time, the Countess behaved more like a Countess, and what's more important, it was sensible how every singer was enjoying the performance. Even the end of Act I was palatable for me, and even the audience of the Estates Theatre - mostly tourists who take it as an attraction, especially at operas like this or Don Giovanni - was constantly cracking up. I don't know if it's just me having seen one too many eurotrash productions, or if the singers smoothed it up with performing it, or it was special because of the special guest, or all three, but it was a wonderful night for us.

Kateřina Kněžíková
Photo: National Theatre
What I love about Czech productions of Mozart, is that they are (more often than not) able to capture the fun, playfulness and lightheartedness of his work, that I can't find in many productions by renown directors. When you add the wonderful cast - Adam Plachetka as Figaro, Kateřina Kněžíková as Susanna (I'm told that they've separated... if the rumour that they were dating is true in the first place... well, who cares :-) ), Martin Bárta as Almaviva (you can also see him as a very good [and handsome] Don Giovanni here, with Kněžíková as Zerlina), Stanislava Jirků as Cherubino, Yvona Škvárová as Marcellina or Zdeněk Plech as Don Bartolo.

History (abbridged)

3050 B.C.- A Sumerian invents the wheel. Within the week, the idea is stolen and duplicated by other Sumerians, thereby establishing the business ethic for all times.
2900 B.C.-Wondering why the Egyptians call that new thing a Sphinx becomes the first of the world's Seven Great Wonders. 
1850 B.C.-Britons proclaim Operation Stonehenge a success. They've finally gotten those boulders arrange in a sufficiently meaningless pattern to confuse the hell out of scientists for centureis. 
1785 B.C.-The first calendar, composed of a year with 354 days, is introduced by Babylonian scientists. 
1768 B.C.-Babylonians realize something is wrong when winter begins in June. 
776 B.C.-The world's first known money appears in Persia, immediately causing the world's first known counterfeiter to appear in Persia the next day. 
525 B.C.-The first Olympics are held, and prove similar to the modern games, except that the Russians don't try to enter a six-footer with a mustache in the women's shot put. However, the Egyptians do! 
410 B.C.-Rome ends the pracitce of throwing debtors into slavery, thus removing the biggest single obstacle to the development of the credit card. 
404 B.C.-The Peloponnesian war has been going on for 27 years now because neither side can find a treaty writer who knows how to spell Peloponnesian. 
214 B.C.-Tens of thousands of Chinese labor for a generation to build the 1,500 mile long Great Wall of China. And after all that, it still doesn't keep the neighbor's dog out. 
1 B.C.-Calendar manufacturers find themselves in total disagreement over what to call next year.