Olomouc to stage world premiere of forgotten opera by Antonín Rejcha

The annual Baroque Festival gets underway on Friday in the Moravian city of Olomouc. Over the course of the next two months, visitors will have a chance to see a wide range of performances from symphonic to chamber and sacred music. One of the highlights will be the premiere of an opera by the 18th century Czech-born composer Antonín Rejcha.

Antonín Rejcha | Photo: C. Constans after Counis,  Gallica Digital Library,  public domain

The Olomouc Baroque festival, which is now in its ninth year, is one of the main holiday events taking place in the historical capital of Moravia.  The main theme of this year’s editions is Travels, and the series of performances will take the audiences from Ethiopia to England, the Netherlands and Italy.

The music, ranging from the baroque to the classicist and early romantic periods, will be performed by ensembles specialising in the interpretation of early music, including Poland’s Arte dei Suonatori, one of the leading Baroque orchestras in Europe.

Photo: The Olomouc Baroque festival

The festival traditionally focuses on presenting forgotten works by Czech and foreign composers, hidden in archives all over Central Europe. This year, festival organizers found inspiration in French music archives, says one of the organizers, Karel Valenta:

“Certainly the biggest attraction of this year's festivities is the stage performance of Antonin Rejcha's French comic opera. The world premiere of the piece is scheduled to take place at the court of the Theresian Armoury.”

The Czech-born musician and teacher Antonín Rejcha, who spent most of his life in Pairs, recently made headlines when his notebook and other documents were discovered lying by trashcans in the French capital.

Photo: The Olomouc Baroque festival

Rejcha, who became famous in France both as a teacher and theorist at the Paris conservatory, was a prolific composer, but with the exception of some of his earlier pieces for woodwind, his works are not very widely played these days.

Photo: The Olomouc Baroque festival

The concert in Olomouc will therefore be a rare chance for the audiences to get acquainted with the Czech-born composer, who was a life-long friend of Ludwig van Beethoven.

Another highlight of the Olomouc baroque festivities will be a concert at the city’s summer cinema, says Mr Valenta:

“It will be Anton Zimmermann's melodrama Ariadne and Perseus. It will also be a revived Czech premiere of this classicist composer.

“The entire performance will be accompanied by world-renowned Ukrainian artist Kseniya Simonova, who will be creating sand art that will be projected directly onto a screen.”

Olomouc | Photo: CzechTourism
The Olomouc Baroque Festival will end on September 9 with a concert dedicated the Holy Trinity Column in the centre of the city, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The event will feature the music of two contemporaries, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Gottlieb Neumann, celebrating the Holy Trinity.

Authors: Ruth Fraňková , Blanka Mazalová
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