The Excursions of Mr Brouček has a reputation for being unexportable because of the references to Czech history and
Last year I went to the semi staged production at the Barbican conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek. It was simple and elegant, changes wrought by changes of headgear, reminding us how easy it is to to fake things ! This was a magical performance, in Czech of course, a language sharp and pungent as percussion. Imagine an orchestra without percussion (including percussive effects on strings) – Janáček in English is emasculated. The singing, by regulars at Prague Opera, was excellent. This production was magic, reality blending into unreality, exactly what the plot is all about. Later that evening, I was driving through the long tunnel by the Barbican. The two principal singers were there. walking towards the Tube station, struggling to balance their suitcases with the huge bunches of flowers they'd been presented with at the end of the show. What a cosmic moment ! It was surreal - yet another “transformation” in a world where anything can happen.
Here's a bit of description from the Barbican performance :
"Janáček was so determined that the opening overture should evoke the image of
"Janáček wrote the second excursion in a mood of patriotic fervour, so it’s more focussed than the first. Stumbling into a tunnel, Brouček wakes up in 1420 on the eve of the most important battle in Czech history. In an imaginative plot-within-a plot, the author of the original stage play adapted for this opera appears as an apparition. He says that the heroism of the past has been replaced by the stupidity and crassness Brouček symbolises. Janáček is signalling as loudly and clearly as he can, that he’s concurring with Svatopluk Čzech’s views on “modern” venality. Like the denizens of the Moon, the Hussite rebels may have their blind spots, but both accept strangers (and, by implication, new ideas). This was the crucial turning point in Czech history, and the rebels are prepared to die for their beliefs. Musically, this Excursion inhabits a different world to the first. It’s more strident and discordant, the pace more urgent, the undertones darker. Hussite hymns are incorporated into the blazing anthem Janáček writes for the chorus, amplified resoundingly by full orchestra. The choral writing is particularly interesting, because the style changes just as the solo parts transform"