National Theatre starts new season

A concert of forgotten works will be followed by premieres of new and classic operas

The National Theatre starts the 2017–18 season with a concert featuring music from the era of the New German Theatre. The concert will be held Sept. 14 at the historical building of the National Theatre.

Several opera and ballet premieres are planned for the season as well, including works by Benjamin Britten, Leoš Janáček and Giuseppe Verdi.

For a half a century from 1888–1938, the New German Theatre occupied a special position in Prague’s music scene. Its first director, Angelo Neumann and his successors staged world premieres of some 30 operas including Arnold Schönberg’s Erwartung, Eugen d'Albert’s Tiefland and Hans Krása’s Verlobung im Traum. It hosted Czech premieres of 163 works including operas by Richard Strauss, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Franz Schreker, Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Kurt Weill.

Some of the composers have become unfairly forgotten, and the opening concert will try to revive some of their works.

The concert has overtures and other works by Emil Nikolaus Joseph von Reznicek, Ludwig Rochlitzer, Henry Charles Litolff, August Enna, Tomás Bretón, Moritz Moszkowski, Jenő Hubay, Niccola Spinelli, Isaac Albéniz, Siegfried Wagner, Giacomo Orefice, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Lorenzo Filiasi and Leo Blech.

If those names don't ring a bell, that is the point.

Going into the opera season, the first premiere is Un ballo in maschera by Giuseppe Verdi. It premieres Oct. 5 and 7 under the direction of Dominik Beneš. The opera, with a different production of course, first played in Prague in 1859.

The New Stage will have a modern work called Don Hrabal, based on the life of Czech author Bohumil Hrabal. The opera is by Miloš Orson Štědroň and it premieres Dec. 14.

The new year sees the premiere of Benjamin Britten's opera Billy Budd, based on the seafaring novel by Herman Melville. The new staging by Christopher Ward premieres Jan. 18 and 20, 2018.

One sure to bring big crowds is a new production of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro. It is directed by Magdalena Švecová and will be at the Estates Theatre starting Feb. 1 and 3.

Czech composer Leoš Janáček's The Excursions of Mr. Brouček, a satire about the little man, is based on a famous Czech novel character. 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia, and many projects will reflect Czech culture from the past century.

Later in the schedule, some of the remaining highlights are Jules Massenet's Werther, premiering June 7 and 9, and a new production of Giuseppe Verdi's Nabucco, premiering June 28 and 29.

The program also includes three ballet premieres. Timeless, with music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreography by George Balanchine premieres Oct. 20 and 21. The Wayward Daughter with music by Louis-Joseph-Ferdinand Hérold and choreography by Frederick Ashton hits the stage April 19 and 20. The new work Slavic Temper premieres June 14 and 15 at the New Stage.

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