The Adventures Of Mr. Broucek
This two-part satirical opera was premiered at the National Theatre in Prague on April 23, 1920, the only Janáček opera not premiered in Brno.
Mr. Brouček is a Philistine landlord in Prague who experiences a series of fantastic events as he is swept away first to the moon and then to 15th-century Prague, during the Hussite uprising against the Holy Roman Empire in 1420. In both excursions, Brouček encounters characters who are transformed versions of his earthly acquaintances.
Due to the popularity of the original novels by the iconic Czech writer, Svatopluk Čech, the opera was met with much scrutiny. Janáček experienced a number of setbacks in the creation and rehearsal of the work, especially in dealing with librettists. The composer’s aim in The Excursions of Mr. Brouček was apparently quite specific: “I want us to be disgusted with such people, to stamp on them and strangle them when we meet them,” speaking of Brouček. Janáček’s campaign, along with Čech’s, was against the pettiness of the bourgeoisie, specifically of Czechoslovakia. However, according to Desmond Shawe-Taylor, who saw the opera performed in Czechoslovakia, most observers reacted with cheerful laughter and even felt a bit sorry for the poor fellow Brouček. He became almost lovable rather than despised, as Janáček had originally intended, and his shortcomings, failings, and ordinariness tend to be seen as qualities common to regular citizens of all lands.
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