This year’s edition of the prestigious opera and music festival Janáček Brno was forced to accommodate to the current complicated situation related to the spread of the COVID-19 illness. Yet the festival successfully took place from 28 September to 16 October in Brno, when the organizers managed to maintain the programme concerning the artistic turmoil in the late 19th and early 20th century and the search for new ways in the musical interpretation of opera and instrumental pieces.
“Thank you very much for your flexibility and the offer of the “substitution” performance, which will be a fully-fledged experience in terms of the repertoire and artists! We wish you good nerves and we would like to thank the NdB for the excellent handling of the present logistic hara-kiri.” Feedback from the festival viewers.
The first festival week (28 September – 4 October) took place with minor changes, the Janáček Brno festival successfully started with the opera Destiny directed by famous Robert Carsen, and many Czech and international guests and journalists attended the special premiere.
“By all means, the premiere of ‘Destiny’ in Brno had a truly crucial effect. Director Robert Carsen celebrated his debut in the Czech Republic with a skillful leadership and an emotionally exciting show.” MDR Kultur – Das Radio / LFH Dresden, Michael Ernst.
The festival also offered many other excellent concerts: Zemlinsky Quartet, Arnold Schoenberg Chor, and other top artists.
“The concert of the Zemlinski Quartet was excellent, the Löw-Beer Villa was a truly impressive venue.“ Online Merker, Robert Quitta.
„Arnold Schoenberg Chor, one of the internationally most acknowledged choirs skillfully and professionally performed a beautiful vocal concert” Mundoclasico.com, Robert Ferrer.
The end of the week was dominated by Jenůfa performed by the NdB Opera with the famous soprano Karita Mattila as a special guest.
“Mattila does not play the role, she lives in it. Her agony was tangible and her despair was like a flame that was growing until it brought her to the unthinkable” Bachtrack, Frank Kuznik.
Due to other measures to stop the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic, the week starting on 5 October started with some changes in the programme. Most of the festival events took place with an altered programme or new concert dates. It is clear that the situation in the Czech Republic associated with measures to stop the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Janáček Brno festival, even the concerts because many programmes relied on vocals. But still, the dramaturgy was rearranged to be attractive and interesting and within the context of the original concept of the festival programme.
“I have been admiring your strong will and the ability to adapt to any – even impossible – conditions since spring. Today I have to congratulate you on a beautiful programme of a substitute (sic!) evening in the Janáček Theatre." Ludmila Němcová, director of Leoš Janáček Foundation.
Opera Salome, which could not be performed due to the government measures, was substituted by the special concert of the NdB Janáček Opera orchestra. It took place on 10 October 2020 in the Janáček Theatre with a huge success.
“The outcome was half chilling, half uplifting.“ Klasika plus, Jindřiška Bártová.
As of the week starting on 12 October, the festival, based on the current government measures, had to restrict all events for audiences in the halls, but the programme was substituted by live streams of planned concerts at this year’s festival and recordings of important events in past festivals, so each festival day could offer an attractive event. The festival was forthcoming to viewers in the Czech Republic and abroad. The final concert of Bamberger Symphoniker on the website of the Janáček Brno festival.
“I am happy that despite the current situation we have managed to organize a virtual live streaming of an unchanged programme.” Jakub Hrůša, conductor.
The festival website became a very strong platform. The festival website www.janacek-brno.cz had more than 100,000 visitors from more than one hundred states. The people from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Mexico, Italy, Hungary, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Great Britain, the USA, Poland, and other countries watched festival live streams.
Some of the Janáček Brno 2020’s productions were postponed to November and December, one production will be streamed live.