Musica non grata in 2022: A message of free artistic expression and life in a free world
Musica non grata is a joint international music and cultural project of the Czech Republic and Germany conceived and organized by the National Theatre with the financial support from the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Prague. The project now enters its third season. Its aim is to revive the legacy of both male and female composers active in the interwar Czechoslovakia, who became the target or persecution by the National Socialists or other groups based upon their religion, race, political views or gender. The project especially focuses on works composed by Czech composers and members of the German-speaking community, which included some of the major personalities of Prague’s cultural scene between 1918 and 1938. More than ever, we can now clearly see the parallels with the tragic events of the 20th century as examined by the Musica non grata project. And more than ever, the National Theatre now perceives the project’s message: one of living a free life in a democratic world, where artists are free to create their art and express a plurality of views in a free environment.
2022 highlights of Musica non grata will undoubtedly include four premiered operas and operettas produced by the National Theatre Opera and the State Opera; presentation of Verlobung im Traum (Betrothal in a Dream) by Hans Krása co-produced with the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre; a Czech premiere of Mieczysław Weinberg’s Symphony No. 21 “Kaddish”; and a summer young composers’ meeting under the umbrella of the Terezín Music Academy. “We really have a rich program to look forward to in 2022, also due to the fact that two of our productions originally scheduled for 2021 – namely Der ferne Klang by Franz Schreker and Flammen by Erwin Schulhoff – had to be postponed to the next season. This autumn, the State Opera will present a jazz operetta Ball im Savoy by Paul Abraham and the National Theatre will invite spectators to Schwanda the Bagpiper by Jaromír Weinberger. Except for Flammen, all the mentioned works are historically tied to the New German Theatre or the National Theatre” says Tereza Dubsky, the Musica non grata manager, while presenting key points of this year’s program of the project.
This year, the artistic platform of Musica non grata will also fully open itself to collaboration between Czech and foreign artists. Timofey Kulyabin, twice a holder of the Golden Mask Award in the “Production of the Year” category, will debut as a stage director in the Czech Republic. Other productions were entrusted to Calixto Bieito, Martin Čičvák and Vladimír Morávek. Leading Czech and international singers will meet as colleagues on our stages, including: Světlana Aksenová, Aleš Briscein, Daniel Scofield, Denys Pivnitsky, Tone Kummervold, Vanda Šípová, Patricia Janečková, Jiří Brückler, Svatopluk Sem, Alžběta Poláčková, Jana Šrejma Kačírková, Jaroslav Březina and many others.
“Today, it is hard to believe that the beautiful and valuable music presented during the Musica non grata project was once labelled as unwanted. Unfortunately, the National Socialism knew no limits to its blind fanaticism and never hesitated to persecute artists just for having unwanted political views or merely for being Jewish. It is our duty to preserve the names and immense creative powers of these artists and even more so here, in the Czech Republic. It was here, where these people were provided with the space and resources to shape the rich local Czech-German-Jewish cultural tradition. Musica non grata, a project co-financed by the Federal Foreign Office, wishes to face these historic wrongdoings, revive the music that the Nazis managed to silence and to make it a permanent part of cultural awareness of today’s generation. At the same time, we wish to stress, how important it is to preserve neighbour relations between the Czech Republic and Germany and our common cultural heritage as a part of the European context.”
J. E. Andreas Künne, the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Czech Republic
“Musica non grata is a project inspired by the golden era of the First Czechoslovak Republic, when Prague was one of the leading centers of European opera. We aim to pay tribute to artists, who became victims of the National Socialism. We try to present their immense creativity and joy of life at a time, when they were still free to create their art. Their curiosity, humor and eagerness to experiment was emblematic of that period in history, when Prague was a cosmopolitan city always in touch with the outside world – which is exactly the attitude that we wish to share. Collaboration between Czech and international artists is one of the ways to create those exciting creative vibes that feed artistic growth and – I believe – bring so many refreshing experiences for our audience.”
Per Boye Hansen, the Artistic Director of the National Theatre Opera and the State Opera