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Politike i razmjena
Ivan Zajc in the Bohemian Lands
; Etnološki institut, Češka akademija znanosti, Prag, Češka
In the Bohemian Lands, Ivan Zajc’s works were always enjoyed by the broader public, while critics‘ opinion have varied, according to the general social and political situation of their times. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, Zajc’s music, his U boj! chorus from Nikola Šubić Zrinjski especially, was published and performed by the music societies in the large towns, as well as across the country - long before the entire opera was first performed in Prague, not at the National Theatre, but at the Vinohrady Town Theatre, in 1913. The National Theatre never performed any work by Zajc; his Mannschaft an Bord, Lazzarone de Naples, Nach Mekka, Der Raub der Sabinerinnen, Die Somnambule, Die Hexe von Boissy and Mislav, were staged by the National Theatre’s predecessor, the Provisional Theatre (opened in 1862, and incorporated into the National Theatre’s building in 1883). In 1873 the Provisional Theatre also announced a performance of Zajc’s Amelia ossia il bandito; it seems, however, that this idea, as well as the idea of staging of Nikola Šubić Zrinjsky, initiated in the 1870s by the conductor Adolf Čech, never moved past their initial stages. The same may have applied to the alleged performance preparations for Nikola Šubić Zrinjsky in Pilsen, West Bohemia, mentioned in 1896 in the Prague daily Národní listy and the music journal Dalibor. During the late 19th century, Pilsen’s Czech theatre only staged Mannschaft an Bord and Die Hexe von Boissy, also performed in Brno, along with Der Raub der Sabinerinnen; both works were staged at the Divadlo na Veveří (Veveří Street Theatre), which was of the same importance for the Czech Brno population as the Provisional Theatre was to Praguites. Nikola Šubić Zrinjski was presented there in 1918.
The Czech press quoted not only Zajc’s works and their performances, but also the composer’s visits to Prague, where he looked for a prima donna for the Zagreb opera company (Františka Bártová), in 1872. The reviews were highly appreciative as well as critical: it was felt that the composer, however experienced and offering to the listener rather interesting South Slavonic melodies and rhythms, was not exploiting their potential enough, and was inclined to borrowing, especially from Meyerbeer.
Between the two wars, Nikola Šubić Zrinjski was staged in Czechoslovakia three times: in Olomouc, Prague and Pilsen; after the World War II it was performed in Olomouc, and Brno, on the occasion of the guest appearance of the Croatian National Theatre in the Janáček Theatre in 1984. The 20th century reviews were written in the same vein as the 19th century articles. Yet, their authors were more ready to praise the revolutionary and patriotic qualities of Zajc‘s compositional output, and to appreciate his importance of a representative of culture of the new republic‘s Slavonic ally, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and later Yugoslavia. The proof of the fact is the highly positive 1984 review, written by Jarmila Brožovská. Figuratively speaking, in this way, Ivan Zajc’s work finally achieved its proper position in the Czech music history.
Ivan Zajc; Bohemia; operas; operettas; theatre; reception
Hrčak ID: 185333
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