Homer’s Story Revived Successfully in a Modern Form
Tomáš Hejzlar & Miloš Hudec 6. February 2006 zdroj Haló noviny
The third original musical title in the course of one year entered the stage of the Contemporary Music Scene of the Brno City Theatre which was opened in October 2004. After the Garden of Miracles written by Zdenek Merta and Stanislav Moša (December 2004) and Nana written by Milan Uhde (libretto) and Miloš Štědroň (music) according to Zola’s novel (April 2005) the third title is Odyssey written on the motives of Homer’s poetic work addressing readers for more than three thousand years.
The authors of the Brno form just used a part of action of the original epos. In spite of that, they created a poetic, rich and impressive work. The union of metric verse with modern music and stage is surprising. The author of music Oldřich Veselý invited successful Brno percussion band DAMA DAMA to cooperate on the stage; Thus, the pre-recorded sound gains plasticity. There is nothing forced in the union of verse and modern (not only big-beat) music in melodramatic forms.
The novelty can be regarded a classical musical as it was entitled in invitation cards: it is an original form which substance can resemble the development of acoustic (radio) script with visualization principles near to the Laterna Magika style, although the element of film projections is missing. The stage management by Zbyněk Srba created a sufficient space for a really authentic performance with original elements using wittily individual possibilities of every interpreter and technical dispositions of the newly equipped stage (e.g. the scene with a flying disc or the symbol of Trojan horse). Srba’s sense of playing figurative sceneries in dramatically closed sequences is evident: he alternates sensitively intimate elements with vast epic, he has found an expressive, intensive reflexion in the global realization music and motion components and in individual protagonists.
The authors’ goal was to avoid simplified musical clichés on the ground plan of a mere and almost expected alteration of word and music in a regular sequence: as against to many current concert musicals (especially of Prague provenience), the instrumental background mingled with predominantly dramatic performances in the melodramatic system, while king-size performances (musical arias) were clearly delimited just for the most extreme parts of libretto.
Undoubtedly, the technical component should be mentioned separately: the performance not only uses the advantages of the modern scene perfectly and functionally and without a superfluous stereotype (including trap cellars, sound distribution on the stage and in the whole auditorium etc.), but it depends on the perfect illumination. The Brno technicians have already adjusted to the new scene and are able to create an adequate space for this delicious (sometimes underestimated or almost abused!) sphere of technical dispositions to achieve a colourful but not exaggerated visualization side of the performance.
It certainly is not easy for actors to act in this novelty. The authors stress not only dramatic creations but also their vocal components. And it should be mentioned that the care of clean language expression and perfect phraseology is characteristic for this ensemble. Swallowing of terminations and other trespasses – frequent in the current Czech dramatic art - are missing; the language level is convincing even in case of Slovak actors. The success is partly due to language advisor Jaroslava Nečasová. In her intentions the verses sounded stylish and created the atmosphere of an old Greek theatre. It should be a basic element of classical work, though adjusted in a modern way – but, unfortunately, it is often to the contrary on other scenes.
The whole ensemble manages effortlessly demanding vocal parts and dancing, without any stage affections. Special appreciation deserves Dušan Vitázek whose predominantly rugged Odysseus also manages the sphere of emotions. The actor can differentiate the substance of individual tempers, matches with the collective harmony, surprises with his motoric freshness and response to external circumstances. He alternates with Petr Gazdík.
The other actors should be mentioned as well: They have brought distinct values to the performance in a united vocal and motoric symbiosis thanks to Srba’s refined directorial preparation. I would like to mention the performances of Robert Jícha and Dalibor Černák (Menelaos), Josef Jurásek and Karel Janský (Agamemnon), František Horáček and ethereally sculpturesque Ladislav Kolář (Zeus). Stanislav Slovák and Petr Štěpán attracted attention in their role of Hermes, Jan Apolenář and not less impressive Igor Ondříček in Poseidon’s stage message.
A really great opportunity is offered by the expressly conceived figure of Kirke – and especially Radka Coufalová fulfilled herself more than expressly in it. Her open stage ovations for her quite sporadic performance were the most expressive after the premiere. And other performances should be highlighted too, for example that by Hana Holišová, Jana Musilová, Viktor Skála and many others. Some reviewers say that the performance gave an extraordinary opportunity to actresses who wan her colleagues with a perfect diction and singing, but this opinion need not be quite uniform.
An important element of the whole ensemble of the Brno City Theatre is their evident enthusiasm and spontaneity which can be seen well in Odyssey.
Finally, let me mention the successful choreographic preparation by Igor Barberic, who was able to move in the sphere of gestures of antique figural art. An unsubstitutable place is occupied by Jaroslav Milfajt who designed a simple (as requested by antique tradition) but functionally successful stage. Similar principles were observed by costume designer Andrea Kučerová. Traditionally, the music component was successful too: background music and live performances were professionally precise, synchronous, which is the merit of conductor Karel Albrecht and chorus mistress Jana Hrušková.
The play Odyssey in the Brno City Theatre does not need a Barnum advertisement: Values are united with popular elements, so it is not just an attractive entertainment, but another tasteful stage performance surpassing extraordinarily the common Czech show business. If only it would hold for similar titles put on other stages where underbidding trashiness is sometimes unlimited!
Brno Is a City of Czech Musical
2. February 2006 zdroj Šťastný Jim
The ten-year wandering of antique hero Odysseus can be lived through during the performance of a new original Czech musical Odyssey put on by the Brno City Theatre. The eternal theme of the story of wandering hero offers a brilliant musical and visual experience. Moreover, an integral part of the attractive performance is a suggestive, alive accompaniment of DAMA DAMA percussion band. Musicals are doing well in Brno. Odyssey is a clear proof of it.
Veronika Stehnová 24. January 2006 zdroj Musicalnet.cz
The texts of songs were written by one of the best-known Czech lyricists Pavel Vrba. The libretto was written by Miloslav Klíma and Zbyněk Srba who also stage managed the performance. The stage, which is really delicious and moved the work ahead and completes perfectly the other components of the performance, was designed by Jaroslav Milfajt. At the beginning of the performance you will be astonished with the Trojan horse several metres tall, Odysseus’s ship is also excellent, either as a big bow full of rowers or a small dummy adrift on the waves created with a cloth undulating across the entire width of the stage.
The most impressive is Odysseus’s dialogue with Poseidon under the sea level, the unforgettable effect of “diver’s” view of sunrays getting partially in the depths is created in the simplest way, by reflectors directed from above to the cloth outstretched from the floor on the deepest end of the stage up to the ceiling, almost above spectators. The game of lights during Odysseus’s throwing the discus is also very spectacular. The costumes designed by Andrea Kučerová, i.e. classical dresses of antique heroes and especially the silver costumes of gods having modern design are of the same spectacularity and interest.
The title role of Odysseus was acted at the premiere by Dušan Vitázek bursting with energy and youthful enthusiasm, awarded by the Thalia Award in 2004 for the role of Berger in the Brno performance of Hair (alternates with Petr Gazdík), wise Penelope was presented by excellent Ivana Vaňková.
The musical féerie Odyssey is another proof that the Brno City Theatre guarantees an excellent performance and unforgettable cultural experience.
Odyssey: Impressive Stage Technology
Markéta Jůzová 20. January 2006 zdroj Lidové noviny
The Brno City Theatre Music Scene Started the New Year with the Original Czech Musical Odyssey
Since its opening in the year 2004 the Music Scene offers the third original musical title. After The Garden of Miracles and Nana the creative team of four authors - Oldřich Veselý, Miloslav Klíma, Zbyněk Srba and Pavel Vrba – came up to the greatest story in the history of world literature. The stage management of the demanding project with musical and dramatic elements was undertaken by Zbyněk Srba.
The action is focused on Odysseus (Dušan Vitázek), arranged by Srba in the same place in almost eighty percent of the length of the performance. Charismatic Vitázek does not give a one-dimensional impression in the role of self-confident leader distinguished with ethical and moral qualities. The spectator symphatizes with him, especially when he fights internally with the impossibility to determine his own way or fate. His human weaknesses and surrounding wiles are watched by goddess Athena. Helena Dvořáková acting the role gives a good performance of wise, dignified goddess respecting a higher order and the gods around herself and feeling affection to Odysseus.
The stage manager’s changeable imagination is supported by frequent viewy coloured conical lighting and turbulent sails associating wiles of the nature, the sea and the violence of wind (and simultaneously separating three spaces – of gods, people and underworld).
The Odyssey project is another proof of impressiveness of the Brno stage technology working with a multilevel stage. The drama is brilliantly underlined with the imagination of stage designer Jaroslav Milfajt, who uses a giant stage decoration of parts of the Trojan horse or a ship. The costumes designed by Andrea Kučerová match in colour with predominantly brown and black materials, blue and beige colours of the scene as well as silver and golden lighting. The choreography by Igor Barberić perfectly increases the level of the performance. The homage to Homer was rendered in Brno by the ensemble of forty actors (playing more than twenty alternated roles) and two dozens of ballet ensemble members. Apparently, the fairy-tale features with a mythological frame will have a warm acceptance.
Mythic Odysseus Has Reached Brno Banks
Vít Závodský 19. January 2006 zdroj Rovnost
Another resounding element was added to the Brno City Theatre’s new line of home-made musical titles after The Garden of Miracles and Nana. The quartet of authors – composer and interpreter Oldřich Veselý, dramatic adviser Miloslav Klíma, librettist and stage manager Zbyněk Srba and text writer Pavel Vrba – offered, as a victorious result of announced competition, a Czech premiere of the original music presentation of the younger of two eposes written by ancient bard Homer - Odyssea.
The authors approached the famous model quite sensibly. The text part resigned to the form of stressed dactyl hexameter and preferred a free-verse paraphrase of several existing Czech translations, preserving decorative poetic epithets and repetitions of passages. The music part of the two-act performance with three dozens of sequences and twenty-one vocal numbers unifies the sampler record of the rock basis and Greek folklore elements with live percussion inputs of DAMA DAMA drummers situated in the portal and soloists’ microport singing.
The classical story subtitled Journey is introduced with its explicatory prologue and made synoptic for an unknowing spectator. The parallel level of Olympic gods dressed in silver (costumes by Andrea Kučerová) and just unboldly individualized was kept. They interfere cynically as well as with affection with the bustle of human figures, and reserved protectress Athena (Helena Dvořáková) and negligent Zeus’s messenger Hermes (Petr Štěpán) become narrators commenting and unifying the mosaic story.
The stage management, supported with the inventive, vertically structured stage designed by well-tried Jaroslav Milfajt and the spectacular, sensualizing motoric component designed by Croatian choreographer Igor Barberić, turned the musical to a dynamic, tasteful, but sometimes tedious three-hour féerie in which the luminous and kinetic priorities of the Music Scene were fully used. The scenes (a ship on the sea waves, blinding of Polyphemos, murdering of bridegrooms etc.) are sufficiently suggestive.
The curious, clever, pragmatic and self-confident hero acted by Dušan Vitázek (alternating with Petr Gazdík) is not fortunately lost in this ceremonial spectacularity. On his journey he meets a lot of beautiful women of different characters (Kirke and Nausikaa acted by Radka Coufalová, Kalypso acted by Lenka Janíková, Penelopa played by Ivana Vaňková), is pursued and tested by revengeful Poseidon (Igor Ondříček) for his pride stressed by the song leitmotif.
The Brno Odyssey has all prerequisites to enrich Thalia, not only in South Moravia, and to be sought after by theatre-goers.
Odysseus: Too Long Wandering
Vladimír Čech 17. January 2006 zdroj Hospodářské noviny
Odyssey is stage managed by Zbyněk Srba and his imaginative solution of the performance is so remarkable that the result can be marked as his best work for a long time, at least as for Brno. For example, the personification of giant Polyphemos by a reflector, the suggestive interpretation of Odysseus’s sailing and a lot of other moments reveal the winged “Muse’s kiss”.
The possibilities of technical magic of the Music Scene became apparent thanks to the invention of Jaroslav Milfajt whose imagination goes hand in hand with purely technical thinking. Milfajt can always surprise, giving the spectator a great space for his/her own imaginative make-up. Attractive costumes designed by Andrea Kučerová go well with the almost fairy-tale world of mythic antique. As a fleet-footed theatre is in question, choreography is also very important. In this respect, Igor Barberic did not disappoint definitely.
The Central European percussion band DAMA DAMA plays live in two pairs situated on both sides of the stage, other instruments sound from a record.
The imaginary palm of victory is wielded by Dušan Vitázek this time - his Odysseus has the vitality of youth and proper virile charisma. The most cultivated vocal performance was presented by Ivana Vaňková acting Penelope.
Dramatic News Offers Mythic Wandering in Music Packing
Luboš Mareček 16. January 2006 zdroj MF Dnes
Homer’s famous ancient epos Odyssey, which was put on as an original musical féerie in the Brno City Theatre, represents an attractive matter for theatre experts. The literary jewel old more than three thousand years, which became the basis of epic genre, is in fact a chain of attractive stories. But it is more than a simple description of ten-year wandering to a native country. Odyssey is an image of journey predetermined by gods’ malicious will and Odysseus’s obstinacy. Odysseus wants to manage and determine his fate himself, which is usually prohibited not only to profane mortals.
And what does the wretched wandering of the king Odysseus promise to you in Brno?
The three-hour performance will offer you a series of spectacular images and imaginative choreography. Victories and defeats, beginnings and ends are blended in one. On the other hand, you will see quite a solid authorial musical which does not exaggerate the impressiveness of its model at any price.
Stage manager Srba and musician Veselý try to grasp the spectator at the beginning and hold. A huge leg of Trojan horse comes out of the portal. Warriors are dropping down the wooden trap, drums are darkly rolling from four platforms situated at the sides of the stage. The mythic mist of the story, underlined with ancient translations, the arched pronunciation of actors and the hymnic music are principal scenic props.
The focus of the evening consists in the robust vocal and dramatic performance of Dušan Vitázek. The well-built young man with curly hair has recently succeeded as Jesus Christ Superstar too.
The Brno Odyssey has been arousing public notice since its weekend premiere with its music, stage management, dramatic art and motion. It calls that it is worth to struggle for your life voyage, although the journey is a goal and you always need some good luck. The message that the human odyssey is endless is fortunately served in an amusing and sometimes uncomplicated form.
Long Return of the Trojan Hero Home
Jiří P. Kříž 1. December -1 zdroj Právo
Homer’s Myth Created by Legends:
Oldřich Veselý, Pavel Vrba, Miloslav Klíma, Zbyněk Srba
Four sets of drums of DAMA DAMA band in the portal and on the scaffolding. Thrilling presentiment of the monument of a new Music Scene presentation: Odyssey by the quartet of authors: Oldřich Veselý, Miloslav Klíma, Zbyněk Srba, Pavel Vrba. The presentiment changed into a brilliant dramatic experience since 14th January and perhaps for many years! Veselý is written about as an ageing rocker (*1948). Let me remind that he belongs to bigbeat legends - from Synkopy 61 and Blue Effect up to Ř-band. Vrba (*1938)? – songs such as Jasná zpráva, Jedeme dál and the same right of domicile, but also Olympic - and texts for Kubišová, Bílá, Urbanová, Gott, Janda, Spálený... In short – an extra league.
Stars Above Ithaca
Srba (*1961) was damned by the Brno National Theatre after Humberto, Road, A Year in the Village etc. to shine in Ostrava (Thomas Becket) and in Most. Brno may just dream about the quality of Markéta Lazarová and The Hammer for Witches. And Klíma (*1941)? Author, dramatic adviser, pedagogue. Hradec with Grossman, Dragon, the Balustrade Theatre, the Prague National Theatre... Hats off in front of the illustrious team.
Homer’s ancient theme of the end of Trojan war and the return of hero Odysseus to his native Ithaca in favour of Olympic gods and anger of the only one of them, mighty ruler of seas Poseidon, and about Penelopa’s true love. Archetypal, eternal theme. Raging, storming, excited, impressive in the presentation by Veselý, Klíma, Srba and Vrba.
Srba is a director of great images, a disciplined counterpart of V. Morávek. Along with stage designer Jaroslav Milfajt and costume designer Andrea Kučerová he utilized all possibilities of the technically best equipped Czech scene. And when he doubted a little of himself, he invited to cooperation Croatian choreographer Igor Barberić who moved his images excellently.
David Kroča 1. December -1 zdroj Český rozhlas 3 Vltava
The three-hour performance was built by stage manager Zbyněk Srba as a spectacular musical show. The reproduced music with rock rhythms and Greek melodies is completed with the live DAMA DAMA percussion band, whose four members play on the platforms on the sides of the stage. The music by Oldřich Veselý tries to bring about the atmosphere of tension and mythological fatality, but it does not bring unique musical hits. Spectacular pictures are provided by the stage designed by Jaroslav Milfajt, who used the cascade of slide-out platforms enabling fast reconstructions. The bow of Odysseus’s ship moves along the stage, soon substituted with a huge whirling sail representing a stormy sea or a pyramid of burning fires lightening the dark of king’s palace. The costumes designed by Andrea Kučerová are also exquisite. She dressed gods in long gowns, while nymphs are wearing only small leather dresses decorated with feathers.
All twenty-five roles are alternated, thus the final impression of the performance also depends on the current cast. I saw Dušan Vitázek in the role of Odyssesus, coming from the family of robust warriors. His vocal performance deserves praise, but he seems a little bouncing when he speaks. Penelopa acted by Jana Musilová is emotionally impressive. The authors provided the hero’s wife with solo songs of which the song Memories was sung very convincingly by Musilová. The moment when the wife is drawing her husband’s silhouette by hands, as if she wanted to remember the shape of his body, is also nice. Of other figures let me mention gods’ messenger Hermes (Petr Štěpán) having the shape of a trickish glossator, and nymph Kirke, endowed by Radka Coufalová-Vidlák with the magic of sensuous, energetic seductress.
The Brno Odyssey is rolling to the spectators in the waves of music rhythms, singing and choir choreographies. The tide of emotions culminates in the finale when the message on the relativity of human victories and defeats and on the never-ending journey to dreams and desires is sung. The musical audiences warmly accept the super temporal message: it is comprehensible to the audiences and, moreover, it is supported with the first-rate music.
Homer’s Epos Came Back to Life in the Brno City Theatre
1. December -1 zdroj New Express
Guest stage manager Zbyněk Srba cast the title role with Dušan Vitázek alternating with Petr Gazdík. The hero’s faithful wife Penelope is acted by Jana Musilová or Ivana Vaňková, nymph Kirke with whom Odysseus stays for some time is played by Radka Coufalová-Vidláková and Mária Lalková. You will certainly remember the vocal solo of Afrodite acted by Helena Dvořáková.
The choreography was prepared by Igor Barberic awarded recently with the Brno City Theatre Wings award in the category of the Most Expressive Creative Deed. The stage was designed by Jaroslav Milfajt. As early as in the introduction the spectators can see the best-known symbol of Trojan war – a huge wooden horse full of soldiers jumping out of it appears on the stage. The performance uses a lot the modern stage of the music scene with many stage lifts. Costumes, e.g. those of Olympic gods stylized in a futuristic shape, were designed by Andrea Kučerová.
Homer’s Epos Odyssey Revived in the Brno City Theatre
Karla Hofmannová 1. December -1 zdroj Kam
Old Greek myths belong to the bases of European culture, but they are so much larded with gods and incredible stories that they are pushed off to the empire of fairy tales. But on the Music Scene of the Brno City Theatre not only the old Greeks but also their gods are given human dimensions. A team of individually well-tried authors (Oldřich Veselý, Miloslav Klíma, Pavel Vrba a Zbyněk Srba) created a musical féerie on the motifs of Homer’s giant epos about Odysseus which was put on for the first time on 14th January 2006. They managed to chose the fundaments of the huge amount of material and interconnect them with a gripping story. Zbyněk Srba undertook the stage management and he deserves a tribute for his genial simplicity and impressiveness of ideas.
One of principal roles is evidently played by the stage technical equipment and the stage manager was able to use it up to the details. All stage devices available are involved in actions and, in an admirable context, create an illusion of coexistence of the heavenly and the human world, of fights, sea scenes and catastrophes. The mingling of related actions (Penelope on Odysseus’s ship), Hades drawing the dead into his empire, destroying of Cyclops Polyphemus’s eye or Odysseus’s throwing a disc) is very impressive. The music by rocker Oldřich Veselý (his own record) is completed with a group of four percussionists of the Dama Dama band. Singers, who sing live, have a disadvantaged position in contrast to the percussionists as they cannot control themselves via earphones. In spite of that everybody’s orientation was admirable, surely thanks to the music study under the direction of Karel Albrecht and Jana Hrušková. The choreography by Igor Barberić is viewy and animalistic and, undoubtedly, does not make the roles easier. The stage setting by Jaroslav Milfajt is simple and functional, especially his ideas of how to represent a ship on the sea and the storm are admirable. This performance is extraordinary as for its theme, processing and presentation.
Karla Hofmannová, Kam, March 2006