National Theatre (Prague)

author Leoš Janáček

conductor Jaroslav Kyzlink

director Sláva Daubnerová


The Excursions of Mr. Brouček is the only opera by Janáček to have its premiere in Prague and it will be a Prague ensemble that performs the opera at this festival, produced by their music director Jaroslav Kyzlinka and the Slovak director Sláva Daubnerová, who is an interesting personality in the Slovak theatre scene. Her authorial projects, in which she combines the function of director, author, performer and often also artist into a highly specific theatre language, are highly regarded.

In 1904-1907 the composer was looking for a comedy plot for his fifth opera and, in the end, decided for a work of humorous prose by Svatopluk Čech (1864-1908), The True Excursion of Mr. Brouček to the Moon, which was published for the first time in 1888. Even almost twenty years after first seeing the light of day in the literary world, the landlord Matěj Brouček who does nothing himself but always gives advice and knows everything was still a very popular character, and the resultant opera in all its originality confirmed the correctness of Janáček´s choice. Nine years of hard work were required before the piece was completed successfully, as it soon became obvious that finding a suitable librettist for the piece was a very hard nut to crack. In the end, seven writers were involved in the libretto for Brouček´s excursions, with various levels of success. However, these problems didn´t reduce the charm and impressiveness of Janáček´s music in the least – the marvellous singing, the masterful depiction of the characters, the liveliness of the scenes and the pace, all of which are combined with a three-period waltz meter which creates the impression of an omnipresent dance, both on the Moon or at Vikárka in Prague. Janáček completed The True Excursion of Mr. Brouček to the Moon in 1917, but before its performance was possible, the political situation changed. Janáček reacted by expanding the opera, which was originally intended for Prague’s artistic and critical circles, to include a national aspect, and Brouček´s adventure in the 15th century was an ideal fit. The opera thus gained a second half and another perspective – nationalistic and tragicomic aspects were added to the original satirical work. It was performed in this form at the National Theatre in Prague on 18th March 1920.

Patricie Částková