Press Room

See what they're saying about us.
Main Image for Press Room

INAUGURAL SEASON OF BARD SUMMERSCAPE, FESTIVAL OF MUSIC, THEATER, OPERA, AND FILM, TO BE HELD JULY 23 – AUGUST 17, 2003. Festival Features the 14th Annual Bard Music Festival, Exploring the Musical World of Leos Janáček

Mark Primoff

Highlights include the American stage premiere of Janáček's opera Osud with set design by Frank Gehry; the world premiere of Don Juan in Prague; a Czech Film Festival; the American debut of Russian director Kama Ginkas; a production of Janáček's The Diary of One Who Vanished; and Janáček's rarely performed Glagolitic Mass

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -Bard SummerScape, a new performing arts festival presented by Bard College, launches its inaugural season on July 23 in the new Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. The festival's first season, which runs through August 17, focuses on the musical world surrounding Czech composer Leos Janáček and features opera, music, theater, and film, the two-week Bard Music Festival, and many U.S. and world premieres, including the American stage premiere of Janáček's opera Osud (Fate) with set design by Frank Gehry.
The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, which opened to great fanfare this spring, has received international acclaim for its breathtaking architecture and its superb acoustics. "The Fisher Center is as much a piece of American landscape as anything by [Frank Lloyd] Wright. You are walking into history here," wrote Herbert Muschamp in The New York Times. The Los Angeles Times stated, "The sound raised goose bumps. The theater's immediacy put magnificent musicians in our laps, creating an overpoweringly visceral effect of barriers being broken." According to The New Yorker, " ... Bard, under the leadership of Leon Botstein, has ended up with what may be the best small concert hall in the United States."

Utilizing the full potential of this extraordinary new venue, Bard SummerScape builds upon the outstanding programming of the Bard Music Festival, using the stages of the Fisher Center to expand on the festival's theme of Janáček and His World. This inaugural season of Bard SummerScape brings to the stage many firsts: the American stage premiere production of the Janáček opera Osud; the world premiere of Don Juan in Prague, based on Mozart's Don Giovanni and featuring Czech film star Iva Bittová and the string quartet Ethel; and two American premieres by Russian director Kama Ginkas and the Moscow New Generation Theatre. There will also be six performances of Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen given by the Czech DRAK Theater, one of the world's most innovative puppet theaters. The acclaimed Bard Music Festival, now in its 14th season, fills SummerScape's last two weekends with an exploration of the musical world of Leos Janáček. Orchestral, choral, and chamber concerts will be complemented by discussions, a symposium, and preconcert talks.
The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College is the East Coast's only performing arts center designed by Frank Gehry. The 108,000 square-foot Fisher Center, just 90 miles from New York City, consists of two main performance spaces: the Sosnoff Theater, an intimate, 900-seat theater for opera, music, theater, and dance; and the flexible LUMA Theater, which can accommodate approximately 200 people.

The Center's director, Jonathan Levi, states, "The inaugural season of Bard SummerScape will feature world-class artists presenting innovative works of music, theater, and opera, inspired by the life and work of Leos Janáček. The glorious Fisher Center is a reflection of Bard's dedication to the performing arts and the creative process."


Bard SummerScape
opens on Wednesday, July 23 (preview performance), with the American stage premiere of Janáček's darkly romantic opera Osud (Fate). In Czech with English supertitles, the opera is directed by JoAnne Akalaitis, with sets by Frank Gehry, lighting by Jennifer Tipton, and costumes by Kaye Voyce. Composed between 1903 and 1904 and inspired by a liaison at a spa, Osud was never performed during Janáček's lifetime and received its stage premiere in Brno in 1958. Music director Leon Botstein will lead the American Symphony Orchestra and a cast of 40 in five performances of this rarely heard Czech masterpiece, which tells the story of a tormented composer attempting to trick fate by writing an opera about his own life. The cast includes Michael Hendrick, Christine Abraham, and Linda Roark-Strummer. Osud will be the first opera performed in the Fisher Center's acoustically superb Sosnoff Theater.


On Wednesday, July 30, the world premiere of Don Juan in Prague, a fully staged opera based on Mozart's Don Giovanni and adapted and directed by David Chambers, will feature original computer-driven arrangements of Mozart's opera score, by New Zealand composer Matthew Suttor. The arrangements were composed for the string quartet Ethel. The opera will be sung in Italian by a cast of eight. Czech singer, violinist, and film star Iva Bittová, making her first theatrical appearance in 15 years, will play the role of the jilted Donna Elvira, who attempts to persuade Don Giovanni to choose her over Hell.


The Moscow New Generation Theatre
will make its American debut with two premieres:

K.I. from "Crime"
and The Storm, directed by the renowned Russian directors Kama Ginkas and Henrietta Yanovskaya, respectively.

The Storm written in 1860 by Aleksandr Ostrovsky, was used by Janáček as the basis for his opera Kát'a Kabanova. Yanovskaya's production of The Storm has won numerous awards in its native Moscow and throughout Europe and Asia. The Storm, in Russian with English supertitles, premieres on Thursday, August 7.

K.I. from "Crime," in Russian, with synopsis in English, was adapted by Daniil Gink from Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment. The acclaimed Russian film actor Oksana Mysina stars as the widow of Raskolnikov's drinking companion Marmeladov, the unlucky civil servant. K.I. from "Crime" opens on Wednesday, August 6.


DRAK Theater, the innovative Czech puppet theater, will present six one-hour performances of Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen, beginning Wednesday, August 13, at noon in the Fisher Center's Dance Studio. There will be lunchtime performances for family audiences, as well as a late-evening performance at NightScape, SummerScape's late-night cabaret.

DRAK Theater, founded 45 years ago, grew out of a long tradition of Czech puppetry. It is known for its dynamic quest for groundbreaking theater. DRAK, which means "dragon," is a Czech acronym for a "theater of variety, attractions, and comedy." The group emphasizes improvisation and playfulness in its works.


A Czech Film Festival, opening on Thursday, July 24, will feature four evenings of films with English subtitles, celebrating the rich Moravian heritage of Leos Janáček. Janáček's homeland has influenced several generations of Czech filmmakers, from Vladimír Sís to Jaromil Jires. Using state-of-the-art digital projection, this series will bring to life yet another dimension of the legacy of Janáček and his world.


Every Saturday night of the festival, at 10:30 p.m., in the relaxed atmosphere of the Dance Studio, NightScape will present spirited and unique performances by some of SummerScape's acclaimed artists. On July 26, violinist-singer Iva Bittová will perform a mixture of Moravian and classical music, jazz improvisation, and drama; Ethel, "New York's most daring string quartet" (Strings magazine) performs on August 2. Theater offerings include a special performance of K.I. from "Crime," directed by Kama Ginkas, on August 9; and The Cunning Little Vixen, performed by the DRAK puppet theater, on August 16.


The 12 programs of the 14th annual Bard Music Festival: Leos Janáček and His World (August 8 - 10 and August 15 - 17), under artistic directors Leon Botstein, Christopher H. Gibbs, and Robert Martin, will explore the full range of Janáček's music, from early choral works to the instrumental masterpieces of the 1920s, bringing together a broad range of genres including opera, orchestral and chamber music, song repertoire, and folk music. Programs will be organized around such topics as "The Symphonic Imagination," "Music and Storytelling," "The Music of Language and Fantasy," and "Folklore from the Field to the Parlor." Featured alongside Janáček's music will be works by such contemporaries as Smetana, Fibich, Suk, and Dvořák. Works by Tchaikovsky, Szymanowski, and Bartók will be placed in the context of Janáček's career, and audiences will also have an opportunity to hear works by Josef Bohuslav Foerster, Pavel Haas, and Otakar Ostrčil.

Bard Music Festival highlights include a production of The Diary of One Who Vanished, directed by Robin Guarino, and a performance of Janáček's rarely heard Glagolitic Mass, performed by the American Symphony Orchestra and the New York Virtuoso Singers under the direction of Leon Botstein.

The American Symphony Orchestra, led by its music director, Leon Botstein, is the Bard Music Festival's orchestra in residence. Among the internationally known roster of musicians scheduled to perform this summer are sopranos Turid Karlsen and Jennifer Aylmer; mezzo-soprano Susan Platts; tenors Michael Hendrick and Simon O'Neill; baritone Christopher Robertson; bass-baritone Arthur Woodley; the Casal String Quartet; the Claremont Trio; pianists Ken Noda, Anton Nel, and Jeremy Denk; and violinists Karen Gomyo and Timothy Fain. The festival's events will illuminate connections among music, literature, theater, architecture, philosophy, and politics, in Czech-speaking lands and elsewhere in Europe, during Janáček's lifetime.

Leos Janáček (1854-1928) was born in Hukvaldy, Moravia and was trained as a teacher. After composing his first opera, Sárka, he immersed himself in collecting and studying Moravian folk music. During the long period of composition of Jenůfa (1894-1903), Janáček rethought his approach to opera and to composition in general. He integrated folksong into his music and, more important, his idea of "speech melody" began to influence his compositional output. Janáček's musical and dramatic achievements reflect a symbiosis between the composer's own version of Czech nationalism, a version strongly committed to the close connection between the timbre, inflection, and patterns of Czech language and music; and the European trends of the 50 years surrounding the end of the 19th century. Though influenced by Strauss, Tchaikovsky, and Italian verismo, as well as by Dvořák, Janáček fashioned his own idiosyncratic ideas and style. He was "discovered" in 1916 by Max Brod, who was famous for being Kafka's closest friend. Brod paved the way for the introduction of Janáček's opera Jenůfa to Vienna and the rest of Europe, creating the foundaion of the composer's European-wide success after World War I. Between 1919 and 1925 Janáček composed three of his finest operas: Kát'a Kabanová, The Cunning Little Vixen, and The Makropoulos Affair. He is now regarded as one of the most substantial and original opera composers of the 20th century.

On Friday, August 15, the festival will present a symposium titled "Janáček's World: Modernism and Nationalism." As with past festivals, Princeton University Press will release a collection of essays and articles by noted scholars; this season's volume, Janáček and His World, is edited by Michael B. Beckerman.


Bard College is situated 90 miles north of New York City in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, and is easily accessible by public transportation, via MetroNorth or Amtrak trains. Directions to Bard College are available at


Tickets and information are available by calling the box office at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, 845-758-7900 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or online at Tickets range in price from $10 to $65. Discounts are available for senior citizens over age 62, students, and children 18 and under. Groups of 15 or more are entitled to a $5 discount per ticket.

# # #

[Note to editors: Photographs are available by request. Call 845-758-7412 or e-mail for information.]

Contact: Mark Primoff



Lois Cohn/Helene Davis

Cohn Davis Bigar Communications


mail to:


back to top



This event was last updated on 05-24-2005