author Leoš Janáček
conductor Tomáš Krejčí
director Kristiana Belcredi
The Brno Conservatory is an institution which was founded largely thanks to Leoš Janáček. This will be the first time that its students will present themselves in a full-length production at this festival. They are preparing two of Janáček’s early works, the opera The Beginning of a Romance and his only ballet, Rakos Rakoczy, directed by Kristiana Belcredi, a graduate from the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts, in cooperation with Ladislava Košíková and the folklore band Hradišťan.
The ballet Rákos Rákoczy was created as a result of the composer´s interest in folk songs and dances, which is reflected in all of his works from that time. It is a series of orchestral versions of Wallachian, Lachian and Haná folk dances such as the dymák, kyjový, pilky or silnice, holubička, sekerečka and others, which Janáček either recorded himself or obtained from materials provided by the ethnographer F. X. Běháková. The ballet Rakos Rakoczy with the subtitle “A depiction of Moravian Slovakia with original dances and songs in one act” was accepted for performance at Prague’s National Theatre in 1891 right when the Jubilee Exhibition was taking place in the capital. Famous drama and ballet soloists took part in the successful premiere, e.g. Jindřich Mošna and Eduard Vojan.
Janáček started work on the opera The Beginning of a Romance shortly after completing the ballet and based it on a story by Gabriela Preissová. She refused to adapt the verse-based libretto and so the author was Janáček´s colleague from grammar school, Jaromír Tichý. Janáček himself called the opera a work of vaudeville, a genre which typically features a simple plot accompanied with popular (i.e. folk) songs, and indeed he really did find many sources of inspiration in his recordings from Moravian villages. The Beginning of a Romance had its premiere in Brno in 1894 and marked Janáček’s first theatre success here. However, he had already started work on the composition of Her Stepdaughter and his conception regarding truthfulness of expression in dramatic art had already attained a new and original form. Despite this, the sweet and naïve The Beginning of a Romance, which tells of the crazy love between a village girl and a young baron is, together with the folk ballet Rákos Rákoczy, an interesting and important chapter in the composer´s work.