But this cannot stop Ory's amorous adventures, there's always a way, even if it means masquerading as a pilgrim or dressing up with his friends as wandering nuns! But a competitor stands in the way and can easily turn against his creator...
The highlight of our opera season, dedicated to people's desires, is a romantic comedy. And the most authoritative composer in this respect is without doubt Gioachino Rossini, from whose extensive work we have selected the little known opera Le comte Ory. The opera is one of Rossini's best, but at the same time it places great demands on the singers with its virtuoso parts. As with previous premieres, audiences can look forward to wonderful singers, primarily from the younger generation of Czech singers. The title role of Ory is played by Petr Nekoranec, one of the most promising talents in the Czech Republic, winner of this year's Francesco Viñas International Singing Competition, and is the first ever Czech on the Lindemann Programme at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (since September 2016). He alternates with the wonderful Hungarian tenor, György Hanczár, winner of the József Simándy Singing Competition (2016). The charming Adéle, who is beguiling to one and all, is played by Kateřina Kněžíková and Jana Šrejma Kačírková.
This new production of Le comte Ory is the work of the choreographer and director Lenka Flora, who decided to bring this story closer to us, updating it from the time of the crusades to the romantic French countryside of the elegant 1950s. The musical production is the work of one of the greatest young talents in Czech directing, Robert Kružík.
Among almost forty of Rossini's operas, Le comte Ory stands out as one of the best. It is based on the popular vaudeville by the French playwrights Eugene Scribe and Charles-Gaspard Delestre-Poirson about the womanizer Ory's decision to acquire a virtuous countess, which is in turn based on a Medieval ballad about a count, the notorious Don Juan, who lived in the Loire Valley. The lecherous count set his heart on winning over the nuns at the Formoutiers nunnery and managed to gain entry with his companions disguised as wandering monks. Rossini was commissioned to write the work by the Royal académie de musique, and he expanded the original one-act comedy with musical numbers from his previous opera, Il viaggio a Reims, which was written for the coronation of Charles X. One of the advantages of composing for the French theatre over the Italian was the opportunity to use his permanent ensemble of soloists and chorus. For this reason, despite the fact the size of his two-act opera means that Le comte Ory is classified by the Académie as petit opéra, with its number of solo roles and the division of the chorus it can be included among the typical grand opéras. Even the size of the orchestra is unusual for Rossini and Italian theatre of the time. Rossini spent most of his time working on the second act, where it is possible to see new compositional methods and an affinity with the French form, whether this be through the greater interconnection and sophistication of the recitative and singing numbers, or the work with recurring musical motifs. For example, themes borrowed from the original ballad about Ory appear in the overture to return again in the chorus of drunken nuns/knights.
With Le comte Ory, Rossini thus created one of his funniest and most sophisticated operas, where the musical ideas from the stage and orchestra fly like fireworks. The work was premiered in Paris on 20 August 1828 and was performed more than 800 times in the 19th century. For a time it then disappeared from theatre repertoires, but in recent years it has returned and quite rightly so.