Opera Diversa

author Leoš Janáček

conductor Gabriela Tardonová

director Kristiana Belcredi


  • Synopsis

    Act 1
    Following the death of Princess Libuše the women have lost their sizeable entourages including the right to select a husband for themselves and, under the leadership of Vlasta, go to war with the men. The men are led by the widower of Libuše, Prince Přemysl. The young warrior Ctirad rides up to the courtyard of Libice Castle. Welcomed by Přemysl he explains that he has come for his armour that the inherited from his ancestors, which is buried within Libuše’s tomb. Přemysl and the other leaders depart and Ctirad enters the tomb of the dead princess. Whilst he is surveying his surroundings he is surprised by a group of warrior women led by Šárka, who wants to usurp Libuše’s crown for the women’s’ leader, Vlasta. Ctirad stands in her way and Šárka flees together with her warrior women.

    Act 2
    Although Šárka recognises that her love for Ctirad is growing, her desire for revenge is greater and she sets a snare for him. She orders her women to tie her to a tree and to hide in the vicinity. Drawn by her cries, Ctirad unties Šárka and she convinces him that Vlasta had her tied up in order to punish her for her unsuccessful attempt on Libuše’s crown. Bewitched by Šárka’s beauty, Ctirad admits his love for her and Šárka almost succumbs to the temptation to become his wife. She soon comes to her senses and, with the blow of a horn, summons the hidden warrior women to slay Ctirad. Šárka feels remorse for her actions, but it is too late.

    Act 3
    Led by Lumír, the men bring Ctirad’s body to Vyšehrad and build a funeral pyre. Šárka arrives and confesses to her crime in front of everybody. She then throws herself on the pyre and stabs herself with a dagger. Whilst Lumír ignites the fire, all are amazed at the great power of love.

  • Opera cast lists

    conductor: Gabriela Tardonová
    director: Kristiana Belcredi
    set design: Sylva Marková
    costumes Eliška Ondráčková
    choirmaster Katarína Duchoňová

    Šárka: Iveta Jiříková
    Ctirad: Dušan Růžička
    Přemysl: Roman Hoza
    Lumír: Pavel Valenta

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