Publication details

Shakespeare in Czechoslovakia: The Comedy of Errors, Hamlet, and Coriolanus on the Operatic Stage



Year of publication 2022
Type Chapter of a book
Description The chapter focuses on operas that were created in the former Czechoslovakia. The works of the selected composers and librettists were inspired by the dramatic pieces of William Shakespeare – but each one of them employed a different technique in adapting Shakespeare’s plays for opera. The text deals with the relationship between Shakespeare´s Coriolanus and its libretto adaptation by Slovak composer and librettist Ján Cikker (1911-1989). The production of the opera in its country of origin, Slovakia, only happened in 2011. The long absence of Slovak premiere had a political reason – Cikker started composing his work under the influence of the events of August 1968. Another Shakespearean adaptation is opera buffa An Uproar in Efes, based on Comedy of Errors, by Czech composer Iša Krejčí (1904-1968) with libretto by Josef Bachtík (1901-1971). The opera was written during the Second World War and was staged in many opera houses all over the former Czechoslovakia. A complicated history is behind the third opera discussed in this essay; in 1969 Karel Horký (1909-1988) composed an opera Poison from Elsinore (with libretto by Václav Renč) loosely based on Hamlet. The plot however represents a prequel to the well-known tragedy and has its basis in a very popular play by Czech playwright Miloš Rejnuš.
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