No Man / Žádný člověk
National Theater (Czech Republic) and Globale Festival (Germany)
"Death solves all problems. No man, no problem." Stalin
"Opera houses? - Blow them up!" Pierre Boulez
The music drama in three Acts focuses on the tragic fate of the sculptor Otakar Švec and the destiny of his final work – the monument to Joseph Stalin, which once towered above Prague. The production, combining opera and art installation, is a stage Gesamtkunstwerk between utopia and dystopia. The music, composed by Jiří Kadeřábek, employs soloists and a chamber ensemble, recorded children’s choir, mixed choir and orchestra. The musical concept is based on the integration of absent performers and stage action, with this contrast creating an analogy to the absent presence of the Stalin monument from the current perspective. The drama partially draws upon authentic historical and archival material, blending with an epic reflection on the human yearning for creating a work that surpasses the person. The production creators approach the image of the removal of the Stalin monument in 1962 as a response to the political changes in the Soviet Union and a backlash against the cult of personality. The engineer entrusted with the monument’s demolition was given the task of devising a silent explosion: the sculpture was to disappear without anyone noticing the blast. The silent explosion is the dramaturgical apex of the second part. As the Stalin sculpture blows up, so does the classical structure of the opera No Man: passing from the classical form to an open structure. Following the silent explosion all that is heard in the second part is the bustle of the theatre in operation – the sounds emitted by the props, technology and spectators – and silence. The silent explosion is ensued by the appearance of the phantoms that have remained in the wake of the demolition of the Stalin monument in the collective consciousness of Praguers.
Libretto: Katharina Schmitt, Lukáš Jiřička | Musical Direction: Jiří Kadeřábek | Stage Direction: Katharina Schmitt | Dramaturgy: Lukáš Jiřička | Sets and Costumes: Patricia Talacko | Orchestra & Chorus: Chamber Ensemble Prague Modern, National Theatre Chorus and Orchestra, Children’s Opera Prague | Soloists: Eliška Gattringerová (soprano), Sylva Čmugrová (mezzosoprano), Jan Mikušek (tenor), Jakub Tolaš (baritono), Josef Škarka (bass) | Supported by Goethe-Institut – International Coproduction Fund
This project is part of round 2 of the International Coproduction Fund, year 2016-2017.