Czech Republic Janáček, From the Home of the Lifeless, Glagolitic Mass: Soloists, Refrain and Orchestra of the Nationwide Theatre, Brno / Jakub Hrůša (Conductor), Livestreamed on OperaVision from the Nationwide Theatre, Brno, 6.11.2022 (RB)
Director – Jiří Heřman
Costumes – Tomáš Rusín
Lighting – Zuzana Štefunková Rusínová
Choreography – Jan Kodet
Dramaturgy – Patricie Částková
Refrain masters – Martin Buchta, Pavel Koňárek
From the Home of the Lifeless
Alexander Petrovich Gorjanchikov – Roman Hoza
Luka – Filka Morozov / Cobbler’s Spouse – Gianluca Zampieri
Skuratov/Priest’s Spouse – Peter Berger
Shishkov/Miller – Pavol Kubáň
Jail Governor – Jan Šťáva
Aljeja – Jarmila Balážová
Eagle – Michal Heriban
Soprano – Kateřina Kněžíková
Alto – Jarmila Balážová, Jana Hrochová
Tenor – Peter Berger, Eduard Martyniuk
Bass – Jan Šťáva, Josef Škarka
This excellent new manufacturing from the Janáček Pageant in Brno fuses collectively two of the good works written in direction of the tip of the composer’s life. From the Home of the Lifeless was the composer’s ultimate opera. Janáček tailored the libretto from Dostoevsky’s 1862 novel of the identical identify which describes life in a Siberian jail camp. It’s constructed round three monologues delivered by Luka, Skuratov and Shishkov. The opera additionally depicts a touching friendship between the nobleman, Gorjanchikov, who’s seen coming into the jail in the beginning and leaving on the finish, and a younger Tartar, Aljeja. Janáček wrote, ‘In each creature, a spark of God’ in the beginning of the rating and he was clearly focused on discovering the humanity in these darkish souls and redemption on this bleak setting. The Glagolitic Mass makes use of the outdated Slavic alphabet and it follows the five-movement format of the Catholic mass.
Jiří Heřman’s set used a wide range of backdrops to depict the Siberian setting together with frozen wastelands, pure settings and darkish emerald forests. The opera opened displaying a spreadeagled Christ-like determine (Michal Heriban) suspended in mid-air. This silent determine was current all through all the manufacturing: the crucified Christ suffered with the prisoners and comforted the damage and oppressed. Chained prisoners rose on to the stage with their darkish cells on the again offering an ominous backdrop. The prisoners had been all bald and wearing black and a quantity had black crosses painted on the again of their head.
Within the second act we noticed the prisoners engaged on a skeletal boat. The following scene fused the sacred and the profane as a priest blessed the prisoners earlier than they enacted a raunchy, humorous play in regards to the ultimate days of Don Juan. The Christ-like determine swooped in to cradle the injured Aljeja as the tip of the act. The ultimate act, which was set in a hospital ward, morphed imperceptibly into the efficiency of the Glagolitic Mass. The silent girls within the opera had been remodeled into an angelic refrain all sporting white. Because the actions of the Mass progressed, the performers created Christian tableaux together with the Pietá and the Final Supper.
I used to be stunned how properly the 2 works appeared to suit collectively so seamlessly. Whereas the Christian symbolism may appear quaint in our cynical instances, it mirrored Janáček’s conception completely. The Christ on this manufacturing is the struggling servant of the irredeemable, the destitute and the oppressed. Whereas most of the prisoners within the opera described the horrible crimes they dedicated, the manufacturing gave them a human face, reminding us of the necessity to see everybody as folks.
Gianluca Zampieri, Peter Berger and Pavol Kubáň all acquitted themselves properly of their respective monologues. There have been some preliminary stability points between Zampieri and the orchestra however these had been shortly resolved. Zampieri’s darkish timbres appeared to seek out the guts of darkness in his story. Berger introduced a wealthy luminous tone to Skuratov’s story whereas Kubáň acted out his monologue in a extremely efficient and dramatic approach. Soprano Kateřina Kněžíková and tenor Peter Berger each sang fantastically within the Glagolitic Mass. The remainder of the forged all acquitted themselves properly. The refrain had been terrific all through the manufacturing each dramatically and musically. They displayed a formidable dynamic vary and had been extremely efficient in speaking Janáček’s idiosyncratic music.
Just like the composer, conductor Jakub Hrůša is from Brno and he displayed a complicated understanding of the music. Hrůša will succeed Antonio Pappano as music director on the Royal Opera Home from the 2024/25 season. He and the Nationwide Theatre Orchestra did a superb job fusing collectively the spiky components of the rating with the extremely expressive melodies. They introduced huge power to the rhythmic ostinatos within the opera whereas capturing the shifts of temper and ambiance. The strings appeared to relish the asymmetrical rhythms within the Glagolitic Mass whereas the brass and timpani introduced out the underlying primitivism within the rating.
This was a first-rate and extremely imaginative manufacturing from the Janáček Pageant.