Antonín Dvořák: Silent Woods, Op. 68
Antonín Dvořák: Rondo, Op. 94
Bohuslav Martinů: Mirandolina – Saltarello
Bohuslav Martinů: Mirandolina – Mirandolina’s aria
Karel Kovařovic: The Dogheads – Lomikar’s aria
Zdeněk Fibich: Šárka – Šárka’s aria “Vše ticho kolem”
Vítězslav Novák: Karlštejn – aria of Charles IV “Je-li nutno, pane Vévodo”
Leoš Janáček: Jenůfa – Jenůfa’s scene “Mamičko, mám těžkou hlavu”
Leoš Janáček: The Cunning Little Vixen – the Forester’s scene “Neříkal jsem to”
Bedřich Smetana: The Secret – overture
Bedřich Smetana: The Secret – Kalina’s aria “Jsem žebrák”
Bedřich Smetana: The Bartered Bride – Mařenka’s aria “Ach, jaký žal”
Bedřich Smetana: The Devil’s Wall – Vok’s aria “Jen jediná”
Vilém Blodek: In the Well – Intermezzo
Antonín Dvořák: Armida, op. 115 – Armida, Op. 115 –Armida’s aria “Za štíhlou gazelou”
Antonín Dvořák: The Jacobin, op. 84 – duet of Julie and Bohuš “My cizinou jsme bloudili”
Only through singing can we find solace, as embodied in The Jacobin, Antonín Dvořák’s opera in which he fused Czech culture with his love of music: on returning to their homeland, the main characters, husband and wife Bohuš and Julie, use their singing talents as evidence of their Czechness.
In this vein, real-world married couple Kateřina Kněžíková and Adam Plachetka will bring Dvořák’s vision to life in a series of arias from Czech operas. They both have extensive experience on stages both in this country and abroad, including the renowned festival in Glyndebourne in the UK and the Metropolitan Opera in the US. This time, they have picked arias from the Czech repertoire, including lesser-played pieces. We will hear the infamous Lamminger from Psohlavci (The Dogheads) composed by Karel Kovařovic, the mythological figure of Šárka – composer Zdeněk Fibich’s heroine from The Maidens’ War, and Dvořák’s passionate enchantress Armida. The “greatest Czech” Charles IV will also feature in an aria from the opera based on the play A Night at Karlstein. All of this will be complemented by the timeless operas of Bedřich Smetana and Leoš Janáček, culminating with Dvořák’s tribute to Czech musicality.
The National Theatre Orchestra ranks among the oldest orchestras in the Czech Republic. Its roots stretch back to the Provisional Theatre era (1862-1883), when the Karel Komzák ensemble became the official orchestra of the Provisional Theatre (The Royal State Czech Theatre in Prague) in 1865.
The formation of the orchestra was influenced by its first conductors Jan Nepomuk Mayr, who was followed by Bedřich Smetana and later Adolf Čech. The world-famous composer Antonín Dvořák also performed as a violist in the orchestra of the Provisional Theatre. Karel Kovařovic, composer and opera director of the National Theatre from 1900-1920, was the orchestra’s harpist. With the much larger National Theatre, which finally opened on 18 November 1883, the orchestra was expanded to include many other instrumentalists thanks to the then director of the National Theatre, František Adolf Šubert.
Prominent personalities leading the orchestra include opera directors and conductors Karel Kovařovic, Otakar Ostrčil, Václav Talich, Jaroslav Vogel, Otakar Jeremiáš, Zdeněk Chalabala, Jaroslav Krombholc, František Vajnar and Zdeněk Košler. The orchestra also worked closely with Richard Strauss, Karl Böhm, Charles Mackerras, Bohumil Gregor, Jiří Kout, Jiří Bělohlávek, John Fiore, and from the youngest generation of Czech conductors Tomáš Hanus, Tomáš Netopil and Jakub Hrůša.
The orchestra has performed world premieres of operas by Bedřich Smetana (and his symphonic poem Má vlast), Antonín Dvořák (as well as his cantatas Stabat Mater, Symphonies No 4 and 8, overtures Carnival, In Nature’s Realm and Othello, Slavic Dances etc.), operas by Zdeněk Fibich, Leoš Janáček (The Excursions of Mr. Brouček to the Moon and to the 15th Century) and Bohuslav Martinů (Juliette) and others. The orchestra was the first to perform Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's operas Eugen Onegin and The Queen of Spades outside of Russia, and Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello and Falstaff outside of Italy.
The orchestra performs at opera and ballet performances and concerts in the National Theatre and the Estates Theatre. During the tours of the National Theatre, the orchestra has performed not only in the Czech Republic (Prague Spring Festival, Smetana’s Litomyšl, etc.), but also in Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands (The Holland Festival), Scotland (The Edinburgh Festival), Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Russia and Japan. The orchestra has also recoded music with Czechoslovak and Czech Radio, Czechoslovak and Czech Television, and music publishing companies Esta, Supraphon and Deutsche Grammophon.
Robert graduated from the Prague Conservatory in classical singing and conducting. At the National Theatre, he staged the world premiere of Tomáš Hanzlík’s opera Lacrimae Alexandri Magni, Smetana’s The Two Widows or Mozart’s opera Così fan tutte. There, he has also conducted a number of works from the Czech and world opera repertoire (Smetana: Libuše, Dvořák: Rusalka, Janáček: Káťa Kabanová and Jenůfa, Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro, Bizet: Carmen, Verdi: Falstaff and many others).
In the 2013/2014 season, he worked at the National Theatre as the music director of the opera, and as a conductor he staged productions of Janáček’s operas The Cunning Little Vixen and From the House of the Dead. From 2010-14, Robert was the music director of the opera of the Moravian-Silesian National Theatre in Ostrava where he staged, for example, Smetana's The Devil’s Wall, Dvořák’s Armida, Janáček’s Jenůfa and The Makropulos Affair, Wagner’s Lohengrin, Verdi’s Falstaff and many other titles.
He worked closely with the Deutsche Oper am Rhein and worked at the Aalto-Musiktheater und Philharmonie Essen. In 2022 he conducted at the Norwegian Opera in Oslo (Jenůfa, 2022), at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava (Verdi: La traviata) and the Košice State Theatre. In 2021, as part of the Munich Opera Festival, Robert conducted Dvořák's Rusalka at the Bavarian State Opera and made his debut at the Graz opera with Weinberger's Schwanda the Bagpiper. In 2022, he also conducted The Cunning Little Vixen at the Bavarian State Opera. Since the 2021/2022 season, Robert Jindra has been the chief conductor of the Slovak State Philharmonic Košice, and from the 2022/2023 season, he has been the music director of the National Theatre Opera in Prague and the chief guest conductor of the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Soprano Kateřina Kněžíková is one of the most prominent Czech singers of both the opera and concert repertoires. In 2018 she won the 2018 Classic Prague Award for the best chamber music performance and the 2019 Thalia Award for extraordinary performing on stage. Since 2006 she has been a member of the opera company of the National Theatre, where she has appeared in productions of Carmen, The Jacobin, The Magic Flute, and The Marriage of Figaro. She also makes guest appearances on other Czech and foreign opera stages (National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava, Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, Theatre de Caen, Opéra Royal de Versailles, Théâtre Royal de La Monnaie in Brussels, Opéra de Dijon). She has worked with important conductors (P. Domingo, M. Honeck, J. Hrůša, T. Netopil, R. Ticciati, E. Villaume) and ensembles (BBC Symphony Orchestra, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Collegium 1704, Czech Philharmonic, DSO Berlin). She has taken part in the making of several recordings for the Harmonia Mundi, Decca, Supraphon, Radioservis, and Mezzo labels.
Adam Plachetka is one of the most successful bass-baritones of today, his engagements include appearances at the Salzburger Festspiele, Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London, Musikverein in Vienna, Glyndebourne Festival, Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Lyric Opera of Chicago or Metropolitan Opera in New York.
Adam Plachetka was educated at the conservatoire in his hometown of Prague. Following his debut at the Prague National Theatre in 2005, Adam has since returned as Don Giovanni, Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro), Nardo (La finta giradiniera), Argante (Rinaldo), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) and many more.
In September 2010 Adam became a member of the Ensemble at the Wiener Staatsoper and made his debut as Schaunard (La bohéme). Since then, he has performed many other roles including Melisso (Alcina), Don Giovanni, Dulcamara (L'elisir d'amore), Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro, Il barbiere di Siviglia), Guglielmo, Publio (La clemenza di Tito), Mustafà (L'Italiana in Algeri), Alidoro (La Cenerentola), Conte Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Dottor Malatesta (Don Pasquale), Paolo Albiani (Simon Boccanegra) and Riccardo Forth (I Puritani).
Adam appears regularly at the Meropolitan Opera, New York (Don Giovanni, L'elisir d'amore, Le nozze di Figaro, Così fan tutte) and at the Salzburger Festspiele (Benvenuto Cellini, Rusalka, Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflöte).
Adam's other engagements include appearances at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich (La Calisto), Royal Opera House, London (Don Giovanni, L'elisir d'amore), Festpielhaus Baden-Baden (Così fan tutte, La clemenza di Tito), Glyndebourne Festival (Le nozze di Figaro), Carnegie Hall, New York (Salome), Deutsche Oper and Deutsche Staatsoper, Berlin (Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro), Teatro alla Scala Milan (Così fan tutte), Lyric Opera Chicago (Le nozze di Figaro, Die Zauberflöte), Houston Grand Opera (Le nozze di Figaro) and at Opéra national de Paris (La Cenerentola).
In concert he has appeared at the Musikverein in Vienna, the Wigmore Hall in London, the Usher Hall in Edinburgh, the Herkulessaal in Munich, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, in Stockholm and Graz, and at the Municipal House and Rudolfinum in Prague. He has collaborated with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien, L'Orchestre philharmonique de Radio France, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Symphony Orchestra of the Czech Radio, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Wiener Symphoniker and with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.
He has taken part in recordings for Arte, Arthaus Musik, Capriccio, Clasart Classics, Czech TV, Czech Radio, Deutsche Grammophon, Mezzo, Naxos, Nibiru, Orfeo, ORF, Radioservis, Servus TV, Supraphon and Unitel Classica.
Adam has performed under the baton of such conductors as Marco Armiliato, Daniel Barenboim, Mariss Jansons, Fabio Luisi, Riccardo Muti, Andris Nelsons, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Christian Thielemann and Franz Welser-Möst.
The Rudolfinum is one of the most important Neo-Renaissance edifices in the Czech Republic. In its conception as a multi-purpose cultural centre it was quite unique in Europe at the time of its construction. Based on a joint design by two outstanding Czech architects, Josef Zítek and Josef Schultz, a magnificent building was erected serving for concerts, as a gallery, and as a museum. The grand opening on 7 February 1885 was attended by Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria, in whose honour the structure was named. In 1896 the very first concert of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra took place in the Rudolfinum's main concert hall, under the baton of the composer Antonín Dvořák whose name was later bestowed on the hall.