Opera Diversa

author Leoš Janáček

conductor Gabriela Tardonová


Opera Diversa is an ensemble which has already earned a steady place in Brno´s cultural scene both by performing operas by the authorial duo of Kyas/Drábek and through an interesting series of concerts which regularly offers less well-known 20th century compositions. For the very first time, Opera Diversa is cooperating with the festival on a project which combines two versions of Janáček´s first opera, Šárka. The concert version will be performed in the original version from 1887, with piano accompaniment only. The stage version will combine Janáček´s music with the work of the founder of Opera Diversa, Brno composer Ondřej Kyas, and it will be directed by Kristiana Belcredi, permanent director for the ensemble.

At the beginning, opera didn´t have an important place among the interests of the young Janáček. However, this changed when a permanent Czech theatre opened in Brno in 1884, and three years later Janáček started working on his first opera, Šárka. He was inspired by the musical drama Šárka by Julius Zeyer (1841-1901), which was published in the Česká Thalie magazine. It was the fourth part of Zeyer’s extensive poetic epic Vyšehrad, which the author had transformed into a libretto originally intended for A. Dvořák. Janáček shortened Zeyer´s text himself and adapted it, asking for the poet´s permission only when the piano version of the opera was already finished. Zeyer took offence, and refused. Despite this setback, Janáček still instrumented part of the opera, but when Zeyer’s negative attitude didn´t change, he put it aside and forgot about it. He rediscovered his partially completed score almost thirty years later and finished the instrumentation of the work with the help of his pupil Osvald Chlubna (1893-1971). He asked the Czech Academy, heir to the rights after Julius Zeyer had died, for approval to use the text in October 1918. Now a recognised composer, he had no problem with obtaining approval - it was granted to him immediately. In 1919, Universal Edition in Vienna showed an interest in Šárka, but its condition for publishing the opera was that it must first be performed in an opera house. Šárka finally had its premiere at the National Theatre in Brno on 11th November 1925.

Patricie Částková