The Janáček Brno 2022 Festival brings a dramaturgy focused on a theme that was very fundamental to the formation of Janáček’s personality and work – the relationship to Slavic culture. Panslavism, an idea that was already causing considerable controversy among Czech artists and intellectuals, was a major theme throughout the 19th century, and Janáček, like many intellectuals of the time, was strongly influenced by it.
With its focus on Slavic culture, the Janáček Brno 2022 Festival will recall this important aspect of Janáček’s thinking and understanding of cultural values. The subtitle of the festival, very relevant today, is the motto Quo Vadis. The festival will also be a meeting of the best Czech conductors Jakub Hrůša, Tomáš Hanus, Tomáš Netopil and Marko Ivanović.
Another theme running through the whole opera side of the festival’s offerings is the strong theme of humanism in Janáček’s work, which is often inspired by Slavic literature and connected with the search for answers in questions concerning life and death, such as redemption, or fulfilment in our lives. It is therefore symbolic that the Janáček Brno 2022 festival will begin with the premiere of Janáček´s opera From the House of the Dead under the direction of Jiří Heřman, with music direction by Jakub Hrůša, performed by the ensemble of the Janáček Opera, National Theatre Brno.
The opera will be performed together with a stage version of Janáček´s Glagolitic Mass. The interconnection of these works, which was conceived by the world-renowned conductor Jakub Hrůša, will provide a new perspective on these peak works of Janáček´s. The comparison of various staging approaches is one of the aims of the festival, and this year will bring an extraordinary opportunity to see two different interpretations of Janáček´s opera Katya Kabanova. The first of these will be a brand new production by the Geneva Opera, directed by the internationally acclaimed German director Tatjana Gürbaca, and with Tomáš Netopil as the music director with the top orchestra Orchester de la Suisse Romande. The second will be by Prague’s National Theatre Opera ensemble, staged by an international team led by the Spanish director Calixto Bieito.
Another important foreign guest ensemble is the Welsh National Opera, which will present Janáček´s The Makropulos Case, helmed by leading British director Oliver Fuchs, together with the excellent Czech conductor Tomáš Hanus as its music director. The festival programme also offers interesting contexts and contrasts to Janáček´s works. This time, it will be the turn of the Opera ensemble of the National Theatre in Prague to present a true feat of theatre at the end of the festival – an opera production of Schulhoff´s Flames. The world premiere of this work on the theme of Don Juan took place in Brno in 1932, having been offered to Schulhoff by Janáček’s friend of many years, Max Brod. Schulhoff´s Flames offers a unique approach to the form of the opera genre, and its message concerning the damnation of Don Juan through eternal life creates a parallel to Janáček´s The Makropulos Case. It is very rare to encounter a staging of these works, thus rendering them all the more interesting as contributions to the festival programme.