The Distant Soud opera returns to the State Opera after 102 years! Premiere on 20 March

As part of the Musica non grata project, the State Opera will stage one of the most successful operatic works of the early 20th century, Franz Schreker’s The Distant Sound. This production, directed by the double Golden Mask Award winner Timofey Kulyabin, marks his Czech debut. The premieres will take place on 20 and 26 March, with additional performances scheduled for 29 March and 3 and 10 April.

The Distant Sound is, for me, a story of today’s world, set in a vibrant, modern European city,” says Timofey Kulyabin. “As in Schreker's libretto, we witness the relationship between two people and observe their three meetings and subsequent separations, each spanning several years. However, this story is not about romantic love and deceptive illusions for me but a reflection on the essence and rights of true talent, especially if such talent belongs to a woman.” The opera, whose history began in the early 20th century and whose Prague premiere was advocated by Alexander Zemlinsky since 1911, had its debut on 18 August 1912 in Frankfurt am Main. The New German Theatre in Prague was the second opera house in the world to present this title, conducted by Alexander Zemlinsky on 20 May 1920.

“Schreker's work has experienced a significant renaissance in Europe in recent years. When we decided to undertake the Musica non grata project, I knew we had to include The Distant Sound. It is an extraordinarily beautiful, Late Romantic musical language with a very strong autobiographical story. Personally, I think it is one of the masterpieces of 20th-century opera,” says Per Boye Hansen, Artistic Director of the National Theatre Opera and the State Opera.

The production team draws inspiration from Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut and Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus for their directorial concept. They fully utilise the sound effects prescribed by the composer, who cleverly plays with the auditory perspective of the audience. Spectators can look forward to a choir hidden behind the stage and small ensembles scattered in secret corners. The stage design is also intriguing, featuring the motif of an endless corridor. “In Schreker's version, Grete loses everything at the end: love, her life, which has left her with nothing. In our story, she reclaims her life. I would call her a 'self-made woman',” adds Timofey Kulyabin.

The main roles will feature the soprano Svetlana Aksenova as Grete and the tenor Aleš Briscein as the composer Fritz. The musical preparation is led by the State Opera’s Music Director, Karl-Heinz Steffens, who will conduct the State Opera Orchestra and Chorus. The production will have five performances in Prague.

More about The Distant Sound and online tickets

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