Opera Scotland

Adventures of Mr Brouček Výlety páně Broučkovy; The Excursions of Mr Brouček

Music
Leoš Janáček (born Hukvaldy, 3 July 1854; died Ostrava, 12 August 1928)

Text
The composer, from contributions by Viktor Dyk and František Procházka assisted by František Gellner.

Source
Two novels recounting Brouček’s Excursions (1888/89), by Svatopluk Čech (Czech 1846-1908)

 

Premières
First performance: Prague (National Theatre), 23 April 1920.
First UK performance: Edinburgh (King’s Theatre), 5 September 1970.
First performance in Scotland: As above
Scottish Opera première: Glasgow (Theatre Royal), 8 April 2010.

 

Background
Janáček earned a living as a music teacher for many years before his compositions were recognised, and he only achieved success at a late stage in his career. The fifth of Janáček’s nine operas, Mr Brouček took many years of work from 1908 to 1917, in adapting the source material, initially as a one-act piece using the voyage to the Moon – a satire on the art world of the time. He later added the voyage back to the Hussite revolt of 1420. The opera has struggled to achieve popularity outside the Czech Republic. However the music is instantly attractive, and saturated with waltz melodies and grand patriotic elements.

 

Main Characters
Mr Brouček (tenor)
Prague (1); The Moon (2); Prague 1420 (3)
Mazal, a painter (1); Blankytný, a poet (2); Petřík (3) (tenor)
Málinka, his girl (1); Etherea, his girl (2); Kunka (3); (soprano)
Sacristan, her father (1); Lunobor, her father (2); Domšík, her father (3); (bass)
Würfl, an innkeeper (1); Čaroskvouci (2); City Councillor (3); (baritone)
Potboy (1); Child Prodigy (2); A Student (3); (soprano)
Nováková (1); Kedruta (3); (mezzo-soprano)
A Poet (1); A Poet (2); Vašek (3); (baritone)
A Painter (1); A Painter (2); Vojta (3); (tenor)
A Composer (1); A Harper (2); Miroslav, a goldsmith (3); (tenor)

 

Plot Summary
The Prologue and Epilogue are located in contemporary Prague. Brouček is a property owner who spends much of his time in the local inn, and is frequently drunk. The two adventures or excursions depict dreams of a comical and satirical voyage to the Moon and a more seriously patriotic trip back to medieval Prague. The characters he meets in the dreams bear an uncanny resemblance to the real people in his life.

In a drunken stupor, Brouček overhears an argument between one of his tenants, Mazal, and his girlfriend, Málinka. In his dream, Brouček imagines Etherea flirting with him, a sensible chap, and pokes fun at all the frivolous artistic folk in lunar society.

In the second dream, Brouček finds himself among the Czech patriot forces, where he is arrested and charged with cowardice. He is condemned to death, and wakes just as the sentence is being carried out.

The Cast

Child Prodigy
 son of Wonderglitter
City Councillor
 
Composer
 a student
Domšík
 of the Bell, Kunka's father
Dreamycloud
 a poet
Etherea
 a muse
First Taborite Priest
 
Harper
 
Housekeeper
 
Kedruta
 Domšik's housekeeper
Kunka
 in love with Petrík
Lunobor
 a philosopher, Etherea's father
Malínka
 the Sacristan's daughter
Matěj Brouček
 a landlord
Mazal
 an artist, in love with Malínka
Míroslav
 the Goldsmith
Novakova
 Mr Broucek's housekeeper
Painter
 a student
Petřík
 a military leader
Poet
 a student
Potboy
 at the inn
Rainbowglory
 a painter
Sacristan
 of St Vitus' Cathedral
Scholar
 the Councillor's son
Second Taborite Priest
 
Starry Eyes
 a devotee of Etherea (Blankytný)
Svatopluk Čech
 a Vision of the Author
Vašek
 the Beard
Vojta
 of the Peacocks
Wonderglitter
 a patron of the Arts (Čaroskvoucí)
Würfl
 landlord of the Vikárka inn

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