Modern World Premiere
The Opera was recorded during one of only three public performances at the unique Ceske Krumlov Baroque Theatre.
Our desire was to provide you with an experience as close as possible to being there in person. Therefore the viewing angles as well as sound recording positions were placed in the center of the Royal Box, right were the highest Aristocrats would have sat. This effects the view and sound character of the recording, and we decided to follow the credo of the Performers, indeed – the space itself:
‘Keep it original’.
Recorded live at the Baroque Castle Theatre in Český Krumlov on 22nd of September 2019.
It was realized with the support of the National Heritage Institute České Budějovice, and the Foundation of the Baroque Theatre in Český Krumlov.
We would like to express our special gratitude to PhDr. Pavel Slavko, Chief Administrator of the Castle Český Krumlov.
In Thrace, the land of King Demofoonte, there is a cruel law: one virgin is to be presented to God Apollo every year as a blood sacrifice. According to the prophecy, this barbaric custom should be ended when “the innocent usurper of the empire recognizes himself”. It is this revelation of identity that is the key to understanding the whole story.
At the beginning stands a mix-up of two babies still in the cradle – the King’s daughter Dircea has been switched with Timante, the son of one of the courtiers, who is thus unwittingly brought up as successor to the throne. The confusion of the two infants comes from the queen, who wrote out the whole truth in two letters before her death.
However, these facts are not revealed until the final scene of the opera. Around Prince Timante there spins a thrilling story, driven by many kinds of love: marital, romantic, fraternal, and above all paternal.
In the garden of the royal palace, Matusio, the high-ranking courtier of King Demofoonte, wants to remove the name of his daughter, Dircea, from the fatal urn from which the name of the virgin to be sacrificed is to be drawn the same day. If none of the King’s daughters’ names are included in the lottery, then he feels no obligation to undergo this test of paternal love (O più tremar non voglio). Dircea meets with Timante, the King’s son and heir to the throne, whom she has secretly married. Together they rejoice in their little son Olinto, but they are also pondering this strange prophecy of the “innocent usurper of the empire.” Dircea places all her fears into Timante’s hands (In te spero, o Sposo amato).
Timante attempts to tell his father the truth of his hitherto clandestine marriage to Dircea, but the King prevents him, having already found for his son a bride, the Phrygian princess Creusa. She is to arrive at the shores of Thrace at any moment, accompanied by Timante’s younger brother Cherinto. Timante’s response is lukewarm, so Demofoonte reminds him of the duties of a ruler (Vede la sponda nocchiero errante). Timanterightly fears for his future (Del Cielo sdegnato).
Princess Creusa and Cherinto are just disembarking the ship. Young Cherinto decides to entrust the princess with his love for her but in turn receives only a stiff refusal (T’intendo ingrata).Timante implores Creusa not to insist on the long agreed political marriage with him but does not tell her the real reason – he has already married. Creusa rightly feels offended and tries to turn Cherinto against his brother. When he refuses to become an instrument of her revenge, she accuses him of being a coward (Non curo l’affetto). Cherinto still loves her in her moment of anger (Il suo leggiadro viso).
Matusio tries to take his daughter away to protect her from the terrible lottery. Together with Timante, however, they learn a terrible truth: the King, angry at his vassal, has chosen Dircea himself, without drawing lots. The King’s adjutant Adrasto arrives to imprison the girl. Dircea submits in desperation (Padre perdon, oh pene). Timante believes that he can soften his father and swears his eternal love and loyalty to his secret wife (Per lei mi nacque amore).
Creusa, crushed, asks the King to allow her to return to her homeland (So ch’intendi i voti miei).Demofoonte summons Timante to force him to marry, but he is only willing to talk about his dear Dircea, doomed to sacrifice. The King is suspicious: Did his son reject a foreign princess because of forbidden love for a subject? If so, the more reason for Dircea to die! Only in this way will his royal dignity be cleansed, and peace be preserved to his empire (Se tronca un ramo, un fiore).
Timante arranges to escape together with Matusio, but it’s too late – Dircea arrives through the portico of the royal palace, accompanied by priests, in white robes, garnished with flowers, and ready for the sacrifice. Timante decides to raise his sword against fate and his father (S’io moro, se ascolti). In desperation, Dircea turns to the most unsuitable person – the scorned Creusa (Se pietà da te non trovo).
Surprisingly, sincere love moves the heart of the proud princess. So it was because of this beautiful and devoted woman that Timante refused her! She decides to help the unhappy couple and sends Cherinto to detain his brother. The young man is ready to fulfill all the wishes of his adored (Amo te sola, te sola amai). It turns out that not even Creusa is indifferent to his feelings (Felice età dell’oro).
Timante, armed, liberates Dircea, but the King steps in his way, outnumbering him with his guards. At the highest moment of utter desperation, the Prince finally reveals the truth: Dircea cannot become a virgin sacrifice, for she is his wife and the mother of his son. Demofoonte is enraged by their treachery and condemns both to death (Giacchè vivendo, o perfidi). The married couple say their last farewells (La destra ti chiedo).
In prison, Timante’s confidant Adrasto visits him to give him a message from his wife: let him at least save his own life by consenting to marry Creusa. Timante refuses, and Adrasto is helpless (Non odi consiglio?). But Cherinto arrives, bringing a joyful message: The king has been reconciled through the intercession of Creusa! He has already liberated Dircea and accepted her and his grandson Olinto. Timante asks Cherinto to marry Creusa to help his father fulfill his promise. He himself will gladly give up the rights to the throne. Young Cherinto cannot believe his luck (Destar gli affetti miei).
The prince’s joy is suddenly disturbed by Matusio, who brings a letter with a strange revelation: Dircea is not his daughter, but the daughter of King Demofoonte. Timante is husband to his own sister! The prince is devastated by this new sudden blow, and Matusio is confused (Non si dà fra l´umane vicende). The assembled family reaches Timante on the brink of madness.
Nobody understands anything: his father and scorned fiancée have forgiven him, his wife is free, his son is joyfully extending his hands to him; but he cannot even look at him, only speaking grimly about his fate (Misero pargoletto). Demofoonte shares his son’s dark fears (Odo il suono de’ queruli accenti), and Dircea is paralyzed by an unknown terror (Che mai risponderti). Only Creusa sees a glimpse of hope in the future (Non dura una sventura).
But now a joyful denouement arrives. The king has found a second letter that illuminates Timante’s identity. He is not the son of Demofoonte, but of Matusio, and is therefore not Dircea’s brother. The only rightful successor to the throne is Cherinto, who is happy to accept the obligation to marry Creusa. The innocent usurper has finally recognized himself – the prophecy has been fulfilled, and Thrace is freed from the cruel sacrifice (Par maggiore ogni diletto).
Jana Spáčilová – Translation: Bryce Belcher
Demofoonte: Richard Tamas (tenor)
Dircea: Jana Kuželová (soprano)
Creusa: Eva Benett (soprano)
Timante: Monika Jägerová (contralto)
Cherinto: Dora Rubart-Pavlíková (soprano)
Matusio: Veronika Mráčková Fučíková (mezzo-soprano)
Adrasto: Ivo Michl (bass-baritone)
Olinto: Pavel Šafařík (silent actor)
Extras: Petr Slouka, Eliška Minářová, Alžběta Holcová, Veronika Holcová, Lenka Šilínková, Tomáš Velek, Karel Smeykal, Magda Barabášová, Jan Kubíček, Jakub Moravec
Pages Josefína Mikuličová, Michaela Radová
Costume design: Markéta Štormová
Costumes according to period sources sewn by Milena Kamlachová
Make-up: Zuzana Wittmannová
Hair stylist: Irena Křížová
Wigs: Hana Ambrůžková, Alice Berounská
Props: Petra Eisnerová, Vladimír Hlušička
Other props, shoes, and wigs borrowed from the National Theater in Prague and the Baroque Theater Foundation of Český Krumlov Castle
Stage director and Baroque gestures: Zuzana Vrbová
Baroque orchestra Hof Musici:
Leader: Danuta Zawada
I. violin: Danuta Zawada, Amber McPherson, Blanka Pavlovičová
II. violin: Paweł Miczka, Magdalena Schenk-Bader, Christopher Roth
Viola: Sara Mosetti, Jana Spáčilov
Violoncello: Dalibor Pimek, Rozálie Kousalíková
Violone: František Dvořák
Oboe: Andrea Straßberger, Gebhard Chalupsky
Flute: Kinga Krommer, Hiroko Huemer
Bassoon: Eva Karbanová
Horns: Bruno Fernandes, Graham Nicholson
Theorbo and Baroque guitar: Marek Kubát
Harpsichord: Ondřej Macek, Jiřina Dvořáková-Marešová
Music Director: Ondřej Macek
Richard Tamas (tenor)
He comes from Bratislava, where he studied opera singing at the State Conservatory. During his studies he participated in several international singing competitions and performance courses (P. Dvorský, Z. Livorová, etc.).
In 2011 he graduated under Prof. Martin Klietmann at the Kunstuniversität in Graz, where he also worked in an opera studio with the prominent German director Prof. Christian Poppelreiter.
He studied roles in the operas of W. A. Mozart, C. Dittersdorf, A. Lortzing, and in the operettas of J. Strauss, G. Winkler, F. Lehár, J. Offenbach, E. Kálmán, and others.
He also actively performs in concerts (Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Next Liberty Theater Graz, Odeon Theater in Vienna, City Theater in Bratislava, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Klangantrisch Festival in Swiss Riggisberg, Abendmusiken Mariahilf in Graz, Festival des Voûtes célestes in Vendée, France).
He performs regularly with the Bratislava Metropolitan Orchestra and the Graz Capella Calliope Chamber Orchestra. His repertoire includes tenor parts in masses, oratorios, and passions of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Dvořák.
His particular interest is in Baroque music. In addition to the Evangelist in Matthew’s and John’s Passions, and in the Christmas oratorio of J. S. Bach, he has performed roles in the operas of D. Zipolli and M.-A. Charpentier. In the area of Baroque music, he collaborates with the ensembles Musica Coeli Graz, Musica Aeterna, Göttinger Barockorchester, Collegium gracense, and others.
Jana Kuželová (soprano)
She studied singing at the Conservatory in České Budějovice under Vítězslava Bobáková and then at the Music Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague under Libuše Márová and Jiřina Přívratská.
During her studies, she completed a six-month internship at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome and several master classes (including Santander in Spain under Teresa Berganza, and Baden in Austria under Magda Nádor).
Since 2009, she has been a member of the Prague Philharmonic Choir and since 2010 also the Martinů Voices vocal ensemble. She regularly cooperates with the ensembles Collegium Vocale 1704 and Ensamble Inegal.
She has performed leading roles with Hof-Musici ensemble in the modern world premieres of Baroque operas and oratorios of J. A. Hasse, N. Porpora, G. Porsile, A. Boroni, and A. Caldara.
For the role of Pallade in the opera Asilo d’Amore by Antonio Caldara, she was nominated for the Thalia award for 2016.
Eva Bennet (soprano)
She studied singing at the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno under the direction of Marta Beňačková. During her studies, she trained at Mozarteum in Salzburg with Prof. Marta Sharp. She received further education at the Conservatorio di Verona in Italy under Cristina Miatello, where she studied the interpretation of Italian and French Baroque music.
She has participated in interpreting courses led by GérardLesne, Mark Štryncl, Václav Luks, Joel Frederiksen, and Kateřina Kněžíková. She graduated from the Janáček Academy in the role of Susanna from Le Nozze di Figaro.
She has performed the role of Papagena, the First Lady, and Pamina from Zauberflöte as well as the role of Sleep Fairies from the opera Hansel und Gretel (E. Humperdinck), performed successfully on regular tours to Germany and Switzerland up until the present.
In the Český Krumlov Castle Theatre she appeared with the Hof-Musici ensemble in the modern world premieres of operas of A. Boroni and A. Gianettini. With the same ensemble she appeared in 2019 at Budapest Spring Festival in the oratorio Santa Cecilia of A. Draghi.
She focuses primarily on concert performances throughout the Czech Republic and abroad, also performing in solo recitals accompanied by lute (17th-18th century music) and harp (19th-20th century music).
She regularly collaborates with the ensembles Musica Florea and Hof-Musici as a soloist. Her primary domains include a colorful array in the music of W. A. Mozart, G. Rossini, and song writing across the centuries.
Monika Jägerová (alto)
She studied vocal technique with Pavla Zumrová and historically informed performance of early music with Irena Troupová (Academy of Early Music, Brno). She attended masterclasses with Emma Kirkby (Dartington International Summer School 2015), Chantal Santon Jeffery, Deda Cristina Colonna (Akademie Versailles 2018), Markéta Cukrová or Lorenzo Charoy (International Summer School of Early Music Valtice 2015).
She is the finalist of 7th Renata Tebaldi International Voice Competition 2017 (San Marino). She was awarded honorary mention at International Singing Competition Iuventus Canti 2017 (Vráble, Slovakia), in 2016 she won 1st prize at International Opera Competition Pražský pěvec (National Theatre, Prague).
She studied Musicology at Charles University in Prague (with focus on music of 17th and 18th century and cultural analysis of music) and violin at Jan Deyl Conservatory Prague.
Since 2017 she has performed Mrs. Quickly (G. Verdi: Falstaff), Rooster (L. Janáček: The Little Vixen) and Háta (B. Smetana: The Bartered Bride) in Silesian Theatre Opava. In National Moravian-Silesian Theatre Ostrava she performed La Zia Principessa and Zita (G. Puccini: Il Trittico) and Old Slovak Lady (L. Janáček: Fatum).
In 2019 she performed Ascalax (G. Ph. Telemann: Orfeo) at Vadstena, Sweden. At Olomouc Baroque Festivities she appeared as La Gloria (A. Vivaldi: La Gloria e Imeneo, 2018) and Giove (K. Ditters von Dittersdorf: Il Tribunale di Giove, 2019). In 2015 she performed Mrs. Baggot (B. Britten: The Little Sweep) at Theatro Verdi, Trieste.
She regularly sings with baroque ensembles Collegium 1704, Czech Ensemble Baroque, Hof-Musici and Ensemble Damian. In 2019 she performed Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with Ensemble Tourbillon, Petr Wagner and Hana Blažíková at Oude Muziek Festival Utrecht.
She cooperated with conductors including Marek Šedivý, Vojtěch Spurný, Jakub Klecker, Tomáš Brauner, Andreas Edlund, Roman Válek, Ondřej Macek, Chuhei Iwasaki and Valentina Shuklina.
Dora Rubart-Pavlíková (soprano)
She received her first music education at the internationally acclaimed Bambini di Praga Children’s Choir.
After studying singing at the Jan Deyl Conservatory in Prague, she continued her studies at the Conservatory in Pardubice under Prof. Daniela Šimůnková-Štěpánová. In 2011, she finished her education with a master’s degree at Nuremberg University under Prof. Dr. Jan Hammar.
She has attended master courses under Brigitte Fassbaender, Margaret Baker-Genovese, Elisabeth Scholl, Andrey Kucharsky, Joel Frederikssen, Rudolf Piernay, and others.
Her concert activities primarily involve the interpretation of Baroque music and have led her to the leading European festivals of early music in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, and Japan. She has collaborated with the Czech ensembles Collegium Vocale 1704, Ensemble Inégal, Ensemble Mathesius, and the Hungarian Aura Musicale.
She performed many opera roles, especially on the stages of Germany, including the roles of Lauretta (Gianni Schichi), Dvořák’s Rusalka, Alice Ford (Falstaff), the Contessa (Le Nozze di Figaro), and Elisetta (Il Matrimonio Segreto). In 2005 she was a guest at the festival “Éclat de voix”.
In 2007, she sang the title role in the Baroque opera of Reinhard Keiser Fredegund in Munich and Bayreuth under the baton of Christopher Hammer, for which she was nominated in the category “Fledgling Artist of the Year” by the renowned magazine „Opernwelt“. The recording of this opera was published in 2009 by the Naxos Publishing House.
She also focuses on Baroque opera in Bohemia as well – in 2016 she performed the role of Giunone in La Semele by J. A. Hasse with Ensemble Damian under the direction of Tomáš Hanzlík and with the Hof-Musici ensemble playing the role of Tigellino in the modern world premiere of A. Gianettini’s L’Ingresso alla Gioventù di Claudio Nerone.
She has won numerous awards in international competitions and received a scholarship from the Wagner Association and the Deutsche Bühnenverein.
Veronika Mráčková Fučíková (Mezzo-soprano)
A native of Šumperk, she began her musical career in the Šumperk children’s choir.
In 1996–1998 she studied at the Conservatory in Brno and from 1999–2003 was a student of the Prague Conservatory, where she graduated in 2003 under Prof. Jarmila Krásová.
She has attended master classes led by Tom Krause, Peter Dvorsky, Magdalena Blahušiaková, Jiří Kotouč, Nikolaus Hillebrand, and Joan Metelli.
She has performed at the Municipal Theatre in Karlovy Vary (Orlofsky, Cherubino). During the festival Pounding on the Iron Curtain 2006 she appeared in the title role of the modern opera Beng! by Jiří Doubek in the Estates Theatre in Prague.
Her primary focus is on concert activities, collaboration with Czech symphony and chamber orchestras (Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra, Prague Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Czech Radio, Chamber Orchestra Filokalia, Czech Collegium, etc.).
She is involved in presenting the works of contemporary composers, and she records for Czech Radio.
In 2003, she participated in the International Singing Competition of Antonín Dvořák, where she was awarded by the Municipal Theatre in Karlovy Vary.
She is intensely devoted to the interpretation of Baroque music. Since 2008, she has been a soloist in the Hof-Musici Baroque ensemble, with whom she has performed a variety of roles in modern world premieres of Baroque operas (J. A. Hasse, A. Vivaldi, N. Porpora, G. Porsile, etc.). Together with the ensemble Hof-Musici, she performs in festivals in the Czech Republic and abroad, including at the Galuppi Festival in Venice, Varaždin Baroque Evenings (Croatia), Sonntagskonzerte im Liechtensteinmuseum Wien, the Handel Festival Japan in Tokyo, etc.
Ivo Michl (bass-baritone)
Graduate of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (2003), 2nd prize laureate in the younger category of the Emmy Destinn International Song Contest (2001, 1st prize was not awarded).
Devotes particular attention to the interpretation of music of the 17th and 18th centuries, is a member of baroque ensembles Capella Regia and Hof-Musici, collaborates with many others, such as Harmonia delectabilis and Musica Florea.
Performs at music festivals in Poland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. In addition to concert activities, he has performed as a soloist at the National Theatre in Prague, the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava, and the Piccola Opera in Vienna.
He has performed numerous roles with Hof-Musici ensemble in the modern world premieres of Baroque operas and oratorios of J. A. Hasse, G. Porsile, A. Boroni, A. Caldara, G. B. Martini and A. Gianettini.
With the same ensemble he appeared in 2019 at Budapest Spring Festival in the oratorio Santa Cecilia of A. Draghi. He is currently a member of ensemble Tichá opera and the the international opera company Sonori ensemble.
Zuzana Vrbová (stage director)
She studied singing at the conservatorium in Teplice, then continued studying theory and performance practice of early music in Prague.During her studies she began to cooperate with the Baroque ensemble Cappella Accademica as a singer.
Since 1996 she has been interested in Baroque stage movements and gestures, based on the study of period materials. She extended her knowledge at specialised master courses in Germany (Internationale Händel-Akademie Karlsruhe).
She cooperates with the Hof-Musici Baroque ensemble as stage director of the staged performances of Baroque operas in the preserved historic theatres in the Czech Republic as well as at prestigious Czech and foreign festivals (Prague Spring, Smetana’s Litomyšl, Internationale Händel-Festspiele Göttingen or International Haydn Festival in Hungarian Castle Eszterháza, Festival Galuppi in Venice, Handel Festival Japan in Tokyo).
Danuta Zawada (1st violin)
She specializes in the interpretation and performance of early music on period instruments. She studied Baroque violin performance at the Akademii Muzycznej in Krakow under Zygmunt Kaczmarski and at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique in Brussels in the class of Sigiswald and Sara Kuijken.
She also participated in master classes focusing on the practice of early music, led by world-renowned specialists such as Monika Toth, Enrico Onofri, Olivia Centurioni, Ryo Terakado, Marinette Troost, Jacques Ogg, Paolo Pandolfo, Kenneth Weiss, Simon Standeage, and others.
She is the co-founder of the ensemble Silva Rerum Arte and the Silva Rerum Foundation, which organizes a series of concert and educational cycles in Gdańsk in collaboration with prominent 17th and 18th century performing musicians from Poland and throughout Europe.
She collaborates as a chamber and orchestral performer with many renowned ensembles in Europe and around the world, including Il Gardellino (Belgium), Il Fondamento (Belgium), Le Concert d’Anwers (Belgium), Collegium 1704 (Czech Republic), Hof-Musici (Czech Republic), Musica Perduta (Italy), La Grande Chapelle (Spain), Miszla Baroque Orchestra (Hungary), Neue Hofkapelle Graz (Austria), Jardin de voix (Belgium), Ex Tempore (Belgium), and Mannheimer Hofkapelle (Germany).
She has recorded for the recording companies Accent, Brilliant Classic, Soliton, and others.
Since 2014, she has lectured at the Stanisław Moniuszko Music Academy in Gdańsk. She also teaches Baroque violin, violin, and chamber performance at master courses.
Ondřej Macek (harpsichordist, artistic director)
Born in 1971 in Prague, he received private lessons in childhood in piano and composition under Prof. František Kovaříček. He studied harpsichord and basso continuo under the Israeli herpsichordist Shalev Ad-El.
As a continuo player he was engaged at early music festivals in France (Printemps des Arts in Nantes, Recontre Musical at the Villarceux chateau near Paris) and Germany (Internationale Händel-Akademie in Karlsruhe).
At Prague´s Charles University he studied musicology then continued his studies at Masaryk University in Brno.
In 1991 he founded the ensemble Cappella Accademica (today Hof-Musici), which he still leads today.
In 1996 – 1999 he taught continuo playing and chamber music at the Academy of Early Music at Masaryk University in Brno, and in 2008 – 2011 he led courses of Baroque music at the Church Conservatory in Opava.
Since 1997, he has worked at the Český Krumlov Castle where he collaborates with the Baroque Theatre Foundation in researching in the field of Baroque opera interpretation.
Within the Unesco World Heritage designated Castle Complex of Cesky Krumlov in Southern Bohemia is situated the uniquely preserved Baroque Theatre. Its original Interior, Furnishing, Orchestra Pit, Machinery, Stage Sets and Props make it the finest of its kind.
For only three nights in every year the Theatre opens its gates to present the Modern World Premiere of a rediscovered Baroque Opera Masterpiece. Performed by internationally selected Soloists, accompanied by the Hof Musici Ensemble on period Instruments, this represents an incomparable Cultural experience.