Today evening, Magdalena will perform in Prague at the Dvořák Hall in the Rudolfinum in the continuation of her European residencies. She has prepared a truly unusual piece of musical theatre for audiences in cooperation with the stage director, Ondřej Havelka. After Prague, this “dramatic concert” staged by Havelka will also be performed in Hamburg, Luxemburg, Frankfurt, London, Santander, Oviedo and Barcelona.
The Monteverdi program performed by Magdalena Kožená and the Basil La Cetra baroque orchestra conducted by Andrea Marcon constitutes a unique and significant shift from a regular concert recital to a theatrical performance which will also exceed the framework of so-called semi-theatrical performances thanks to the stage design, costumes, lighting and in particular the acting. “As well as arias by Monteverdi, the first section also contains works which deviate from the usual concert framework in their form and interpretation. However, we want this to be a surprise, so we will not reveal any more. Nevertheless, I may perhaps mention that I led Magdalena in the songs Arianna has a problem and Sequenza III to so called stand-up comedy, but in the extent and taste that are adequate to the world of classical music. The second section contains an essentially regular theatrical performance of Monteverdi’s dramatic scene Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda – the Duel of Tancred and Clorinda,” is how the director, Ondřej Havelka, describes this quite exceptional production. Magdalena will sing and play all three characters in the piece, i.e.Clorinda, Tancred and the narrator. It is therefore a kind of baroque operatic one-woman show. “The idea for me to sing all three roles came from Andrea Marcon few years ago; I have already sung the Duel like this several times and I have also recorded it for a new CD. But for all that, it seemed to me that a concert performance with a single soloist would be overly chaotic and that this has been made for a theatrical performance. I therefore contacted my long-time friend and the excellent director, Ondřej Havelka, and the project was launched!”
Havelka said the following with regard to his directorial concept: “As far as the external accoutrements are concerned, we have taken inspiration take from baroque theatre; by that I mean the costumes or the typical shell-shaped lights on the leading edge of the stage, for example. However, Magdalena’s actual performance has been inspired more by the folk actors or conjurers who set up an improvised stage somewhere in the marketplace and told the public stories. They played all the characters with true emotion and at the same time they would alsogo out of character and comment on the characters’ motives and actives,” continued Havelka, who is also the librettist of another of the performed works, Ariadne has a problem. The composer Marko Ivanović took his inspiration for this work from Monteverdi’s aria Lamento di Arianna and it will have its world premiere on 24.2.16 in Prague. It will form a kind of bridge between the baroque works and Luciano Berio’s Sequenza III dating from 1965 which Magdalena has incorporated into the program: “Berio’s Sequenza may sound to listeners like playful vocal improvisation, but in reality every sound has been precisely noted in the music. This is one of the most demanding works I have every studied,“ revealed Kožená.
This program is the third in this season´s multiple residencies, for which Magdalena has created dramaturgies with varied genres and styles. After Prague, this “dramatic concert” staged by Havelka will also be performed in Hamburg, Luxemburg, Frankfurt, London, Santander, Oviedo and Barcelona. “The unusual form of the Monteverdi program is, however, not the final surprise,“ revealed Ondřej Havelka. “In June, Magdalena’s residency will culminate with yet another unexpected project – she will sing Cole Porter’s musical songs accompanied by my band, the Melody Makers. I am also looking forward to this, because it is always a great joy to work with Magdalena. She is an exceptional singer and a wonderful person.”
Photo: Petra Hajská