Bass-baritone shares some notes on Dvořák Prague
One of the performers in the festival helped us find some highlights
Posted: August 28, 2013
The fall season for classical music kicks off in earnest with the Dvořák Prague Festival. The 13th edition runs Sept. 8 to 20 at various venues across the city and one out-of-town chateau. Despite the name, the works of many composers are celebrated, though something by Czech-born composer Antonín Dvořák is in the majority of events.
The Prague Post sat down with operatic bass-baritone Adam Plachetka, who sings in the festival Sept. 17, to get some recommendations. As a singer, he said he was more interested in the vocal performances. Plachetka has been a member of the Vienna State Opera since 2010.
"I think the opening celebration, Dvořák's D major mass, will be a nice event because it is in the original chapel that it was written for," he said. "I've done it once, once upon a time," he added. The festival starts Sept. 8 with the out-of-town concert. The piece, also called the Lužany Mass, will be performed in the chapel at Chateau Lužany, about 100 kilometers southwest from Prague.
"The cast is also quite good," he said. Ensemble Inégal, which recorded the piece in 2001 at the same chapel, will perform it again with a large choir and guest singers including soprano Gabriela Eibenová, alto Markéta Cukrová, tenor Václav Čížek and bass Roman Hoza. The original organ from the first performance of the mass is still there. The organ is unique for its small size and lack of a motor, which means it must be pumped quietly by hand during the performance.
When: Sept. 8-20
Where: Rudolfinum, Prague Castle and other venues
Tickets: Free to 1,490 Kč www.dvorakovapraha.cz
The Sept. 10 opening concert in Prague has Jiří Bělohlavek leading the Czech Philharmonic in Dvořák's Concerto in B minor, featuring cellist Alisa Weilerstein. She made her debut at the age of 13 and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.An adagio from Penderecki, who turns 80 in November, opens the program and Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 closes it. "It is hard not to recommend the opening concert with the Czech Philharmonic," he said.
Cellist Weilerstein has a less formal concert the next day at Crossroads, better-known by its former name, St. Anne's Church. Weilerstein previously played at the same venue during Strings of Autumn. At the time, she said she prefers these more intimate venues because it is easier to connect with the audience.
Plachetka had very high praise for pianist Evgeny Kissin (spelled Jevgenij on the program), who performs Sept. 12. "It's a can't-miss show. He is one of the geniuses of our time," the bass-baritone said. "He started very young." The former child prodigy made his debut at 10 years of age and at 12 began recording with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. Kissin will play works by Schubert and Skriabin. "He is he is very lively interpreter that has a lot to say I think," Plachetka said.
Another event Plachetka is looking forward to is conductor Fabio Luisi, principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera, leading the Czech Philharmonic in Verdi's Requiem Sept. 15. "It is also a very nice place to perform this concert, St Vitus' Cathedral at Prague Castle," he said.
The Prague Philharmonic Choir will perform under the supervision of choirmaster Lukáš Vasilek. "This is a repertoire they can sing very well," he said. The international cast of vocalists also gives the event a special appeal. "Anna Samul is a brilliant soprano. I know her only as a member of the audience; I have heard her several times in Salzburg," he said. "Masino Giordano is exactly the kind of voice you would want to hear in the Verdi Requiem. A sort of heavier tenor," he added, before moving on to the bass singer. "Jan Martiník is one of the Czech singers who sings abroad. He is a member of the Deutsche Oper Berlin ensemble at the moment."
Plachetka became interested in music as child and was also pleased to see a concert for kids and a program offering discounts and other benefits to young listeners, as this will help to develop the next generation of performers as well as a new audience. Lastly, he pointed out a free concert on Sept. 14 at 5 p.m. on the steps of the Rudolfinum, featuring a young choir and the Cantarina Clarinette ensemble.
In addition to Plachetka's picks, other notable concerts include the Beijing Symphony Orchestra playing two Dvořák symphonies Sept. 14 and the closing concert with the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester Berlin playing Dvořák's symphony From the New World and a Schumann concerto Sept. 20, and of course Plachetka's own recital.
Raymond Johnston can be reached at
Tags: classical music, Dvorak, Prague, Evgeny Kissin.