1. Our artistic goal is to produce the first Canadian performance of Dvořák’s beloved opera Jakobin, which remains virtually unknown outside of the Czech Republic. This opera is a wonderful piece of musical drama and comedy, and deserves to be introduced to North America. Dvořák’s legacy in North America resides in Symphonic and Chamber repertoire, but at home, he is regarded as a master of opera and vocal music. This year marks the 110th anniversary of his death, and gives us the opportunity to pay him proper homage, by giving his operas their due place in the cannon. This project has the support of the Ontario Arts Council, as well as the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Toronto. This performance is a Canadian component to the international “Year of Czech Music 2014” project, and connected with the Czech Ministry of Culture, and the Czech cultural community in Canada (specifically Toronto).
2. Another goal is to introduce young professional singers to the sung Czech language, a language most singers do not work on in school, or in young artist programs. This project provides the opportunity for young singers to learn and perform in Czech, giving them a unique skill set that most professional singers lack. Works by Janáček, Smetana, and Dvořák are being produced with increased frequency, and this project will give this group of singers a performance expertise that will be an asset to opera houses worldwide.
3. Thirdly, we are striving to give young professional singers the opportunity to work with a professional orchestra. This gives vital professional experience for singers to work with the forces of an orchestral accompaniment, and to learn the nuances of singing collaboratively. Dvořák’s use of orchestral colour is well known, and as artists, we continually seek to hone our skills through new music-making experiences, which this project enables.
The characters are memorable and multi-dimensional, like those in Mozart's Figaro. Specific scenes have been praised for their inventiveness, such as the opening of Act II. The scene takes place in a school room where children and villagers are rehearsing music for the count. Benda the music teacher rehearses ‘his own’ composition and conducts the chorus on stage. This is Dvořák’s homage to his childhood music teacher Antonín Liehmann, who taught in the small village of Nelahozeves (where Dvořák grew up), and also had a daughter Terinka. The scene is charming with the incorporation of a children’s chorus as the school children. Many of the arias are blessed with stunning melodies, and proud sentiment about Czech language and culture, making this Dvořák’s most patriotic work!
Risks and challenges
Risks and Challenges
1. The largest hurdle to overcome in this project is the cost to put on a work of this nature. Whether it is artists costs, rehearsal space, promotional material, cost of the printed music, printed programs, cost of the performance venue, and cost of orchestral players, opera is an expensive venture to say the least, but the artistic rewards for performers and audience are unequalled.
Currently we have hired 7 professional instrumentalists. We need a minimum of 5 more, but the ultimate goal is to have a total ensemble size of 25 players. Due to the rarity of the repertoire it is essential to have strong musicians in our orchestra. The cost per musician for the entire process is $1,200 per person. As a work that has never been performed in Canada, we strive to produce a performance that will show audiences the greatness of this work.
2. Another hurdle is teaching the singers to sing in the Czech language. It is not a language that is taught on a regular basis to singers in training, yet there is an enormous body of Czech repertoire that tends be neglected. Familiarity of the language will encourage the singers and audience alike to explore more Czech music. This project in turn promotes the growth of Czech music.
As stated, the major challenge for a cultural project of this nature is that funding can be hard to come by especially for an emerging ensemble such as ours. Through the support of the kickstarter community, we can achieve the funding required to do something different and unique, while establishing a Canadian premiere!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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