Open borders: Prague picks Norwegian boss

The former head of Norway Opera will take over at Prague’s iconic National Theatre next summer, it was announced today.

There may be linguistic and cultural difficulties ahead.

Per Boye Hansen said: I have the deepest respect and admiration for your vast artistic heritage. Composers like Smetana, Dvořák, Martinů and Janáček represent an unique part of opera history, quite amazingly considering the relatively small country and language group they belong to. Both the opera company at Prague National Theatre Opera and State Opera, in order to achieve the desired level of international competitiveness, need to be strengthened throughout. I do feel highly motivated to use my experience and competence in order to increase the opera’s reputation and strengthen its position.’

Hansen was terminated in Oslo in 2015 amid long-running turbulence at Norway’s rickety opera house.

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  • Martinu wrote a total of sixteen(16) big and little operas; Julietta The Key to Dreams, and The Greek Passion are the big ones afaik. Also there are some large scale vocal works including The Epic of Gilgamesh.

    Not a one of these is produced with English subtitles. Maybe Maestro Hansen can pull this off. (My Czech isn’t what it used to be.)

    • Presumably it was performed with Czech subtitles too, for the sake of the Prague audience, as Julieta was composed in French.

      • AT first in French, from the French novel, but into Czech — by the composer — by the time of the 1938 Cz premiere, as “Julietta aneb Snář”. The libretto and dialogue are said to play exceptionally important role in this work, compared to other operas.

        Somewhere or other there is a 1978 British production in English (tr Brian Large) but even if that was available it would be nice to hear it with Martinu’s intended vocals. He wrote the Epic of Gilgamesh in English, toward the end of his life, but would have preferred that in Czech.

  • I had many enjoyable nights at the Prague opera houses (all three now run under one management) in the three years I lieved there. And it’s about the only place in the world where you can hear any number of operas by Smetana, Dvorak and Fibich (Janacek has traveled better). That said, there is a lot of dull routine in much of it. Productions that seem well past their sell-by date, orchestras that are certainly competent but rarely inspired, and little sense of the hip and happening. There’s definitely room for improvement if they give him the resources and space. On the other hand, it’s very affordable.

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