No limits!… As humans, we set countless boundaries, but the path to the realm of imagination is open to all, and music knows no limits.
The motto of the 9th edition of the festival No limits!… was inspired by Janáček’s fifth opera The Excursions of Mr. Brouček, in which the main character takes us to the Moon and for a journey through time to the 15th century. The same motto could be used to describe the work of director Robert Carsen, creator of productions appreciated worldwide for their dramatic grasp, poetics, humour and artistic sophistication. In 2020, Robert Carsen created a production of Destiny for the Brno ensemble and now he returns to the stage of the Janáček Theatre to open the festival with his new production of The Excursions of Mr. Brouček. Matěj Brouček will be played by the British tenor Nicky Spence, whom regular visitors had the opportunity to hear as a great interpreter of Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared at the last edition. The production is a co-production with Teatro Real Madrid and Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin and thus Mr. Brouček will travel not only to the Moon.
The year 2024 is the Year of Czech Music and therefore the entire festival will be dedicated to it. The opera series will offer a selection of Janáček’s work from his first operatic success Jenůfa to his two top works The Makropulos Affair and The Cunning Little Vixen. A rare guest of the festival will be the excellent Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin ensemble, bringing a great production of The Makropulos Affair directed by Claus Guth and conducted by Robert Jindra. This time, Jenůfa is a project of conductor Anna Pešková and director Veronika Kos Loulová, who is one of the stagers with an original and radical approach. The famous opera will be presented at the festival not only in its first version from 1904, but above all as a work that can draw its audience into the story, in this case literally. It seems incredible, but Janáček’s opera The Cunning Little Vixen will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its premiere on 6 November. Two ensembles have prepared congratulations for the Vixen – from Janáček’s hometown it will be a brand new production by the Moravian-Silesian Theatre directed by Israeli choreographer Itzik Galili and from the Bílovice forests a production by Janáček Opera of the National Theatre Brno with extraordinary guests Kateřina Kněžíková (Vixen) and Adam Plachetka (Forester).
Antonín Dvořák was one of Leoš Janáček’s mentors and friends, and his music and advice had a great influence on the younger composer. Dvořák’s Rusalka was written at the time when Janáček was working on his first version of Her Stepdaughter. The festival will thus offer a unique opportunity to hear and see these two operas side by side, and in both cases in extraordinary pro-jects, because the director of Rusalka is one of the best Czech directors David Radok in an already matched tandem with Marko Ivanović as the author of the musical staging. If we had to choose a single Brno composer to commemorate during the festival, it would definitely be Pavel Haas. His only opera The Charlatan had its world premiere at Brno’s Mahen Theatre in 1938 and he will return there after almost ninety years in a new production by the Moravian-Silesian Theatre Opera Company directed by Ondřej Havelka and conducted by Marek Šedivý.
Czech music has flown from our homeland surrounded by hills to the world on many occasions. As the culmination of the Year of Czech Music, let us now invite you to come and listen to it here, in the places that inspired it.
The dramaturgy of the concert series of the Janáček Brno 2024 International Festival is focused entirely on Czech music and reflects the centenary of the first Year of Czech Music, announced in 1924. In addition to the understandable emphasis on the works of Leoš Janáček, the symphonic, chamber and recital concerts will not only present works by Czech composers whose lives ended with the almost mythical number four (Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, Josef Suk), but will also introduce other composers who formulated or, on the contrary, deliberately blurred the concept of Czech music (Pavel Křížkovský, Zdeněk Fibich, Vítězslav Novák, Vítězslava Kaprálová, Bohuslav Martinů, Jaroslav Ježek, Jan Novák, Josef Berg, Alois Piňos, Miloslav Ištvan, Luboš Fišer, Petr Eben, Klement Slavický, Petr Kofroň and others). The dramaturgy also offers works by Jewish authors whose lives and work were violently ended by Nazi savagery. A number of works by Janáček’s favourite and talented pupil Pavel Haas will be heard. The concerts are thematically structured in various contexts, from content to form. For example, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra with conductor Jakub Hrůša will perform the programme of the opening concert of the Year of Czech Music, which took place in January 1924, then performed by the Orchestra of the National Theatre Brno, Brno Conservatory and members of the German Theatre Orchestra. The festival dramaturgy also envisages the use of various traditional and less traditional spaces for concerts (e.g. the Refectory of the Augustinian Monastery or iconic Brno villas – Villa Tugendhat, Villa Stiassni, Villa Löw-Beer). Visitors to the festival will be able to visit Brno’s First Republic cafés for concerts of Czech jazz music of the First Republic. The Janáček Brno 2024 Festival will celebrate its anniversary with a programme presenting Czech music in its extraordinary breadth and diversity.