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The Excursions of Mr Broucek

JANACEK

9 JUNE - 7 JULY

Directed by opera giant David Pountney

Opera giant David Pountney directs Janacek’s warm comedy of errors about a bourgeois landlord.

In Janacek’s own words “Broucek gripes at the whole world and drowns his life in a glass of beer. I expose him as a warning, a laughing stock. In the orchestra is the gossamer web of a dream, the mystery of a lunar landscape and gloominess of long-past ages. I hope I have plucked out a smile of agreement from the audience”.

Broucek has a humdrum life ­and longs to escape all those people who bother him. First stop is the Moon, followed by a trip to the 15th century. Alas, he can’t get away from those irritating people and ends where he started: Prague.

A hilarious high-energy production with stupendous sets by Leslie Travers.

An opera in two parts

Sung in English (translation by David Pountney)

Music: Leoš Janáček

Based on two novels by Svatopluk Čech

First performance: 23 April 1920, Prague National Theatre

UK première: 5 September 1970, King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

Supported by David & Amanda Leathers, with Lord & Lady Sassoon, Alex & Alison Fortescue

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More info

Cast & Creatives

MR BROUCEK, property ownerPETER HOARE     Sponsor Peter & Manina Dicks
MALINKA Sakristán’s daughter / ETHEREA / KUNKAFFLUR WYN
MAZAL, a painter / BOUNZINCEK / PETRIK / SVATOPLUKMARK LE BROCQ
WÜRFL, a bartender / PAYCEK / COUNCILLORANDREW SHORE   Sponsor Malcolm Herring
SAKRISTÁN, Sacristan / DUDCEK / DOMSIKCLIVE BAYLEY   Sponsor Andrew & Jane Sutton
FANNY, a housekeeper / KEDRUTA ∙ ANNE-MARIE OWENS     Sponsor Anthony & Carolyn Townsend
SPOTCEK / VOJTA / RAINCEK / MIROSLA ADRIAN THOMPSON
POSTDATEDCEK ∙ JONATHAN KENNEDY
CHILD PRODIGY ∙ PASQUALE ORCHARD
SPOTCEK ∙ ROBIN HORGAN
FARTY ∙ BENJIE DEL ROSARIO
TABORITE 1 ∙ TOKI HAMANO
ARTY / TABORITE 2 ∙ MARCUS SWIETLICKI

CONDUCTOR ∙ GEORGE JACKSON     Sponsor Brian & Jennifer Ratner
DIRECTORDAVID POUNTNEY
SET DEISGNERLESLIE TRAVERS
COSTUME DESIGNER ∙ MARIE-JEAN LECCA
MOVEMENT∙LYNNE HOCKNEY

ORCHESTRA ∙ BBC CONCERT ORCHESTRA 

Performance dates

Thursday 9 June 5:45pm
Saturday 18 June 5:45pm
Sunday 26 June 5:45pm
Wednesday 29 June 5:45pm
Thursday 7 July 5:45pm

Booking dates

Pioneers & Singer Sponsors: Wednesday 6 Oct
Revels: Wednesday 20 Oct
Hippocrates: Wednesday 24 Nov
Archimedes: Wednesday 15 Dec
Plato: Wednesday 9 Feb
Public: Wednesday 9 Mar
Meteor: Wednesday 20 Apr

Join for priority booking

Act 1 

Scene 1 – Prague 1920

Replete with his customary fifteen beers, Mr Brouček attempts to find his way home to the apartment house of which he is the proud owner. Málinka, the Sacristan’s daughter, is so desperate at the infidelities of Mazal, Mr Brouček’s bohemian tenant, that she threatens suicide, and to calm her down Mr Brouček has to agree to marry her. However, he soon retracts.

Málinka goes off up the alley with Mazal as normal.

Finally it is all too much for Mr Brouček and he seeks a saner existence on the moon.

Scene 2 – The Moon

It turns out, however, that the moon has been colonised by creatures from Mr Brouček’s worst nightmare: the artistic and intellectual avant-garde. Mr Brouček lands in the home of the lunar artist Bounzinček (who bears a strange resemblance to Mazal). He describes his lifelong platonic passion for a lunar maiden, Etherea.

Scene 3

Etherea is an independent–minded prewoman, and arrives with her politically correct sorority as a backing group to perform an ode most modish and organic.

However, when Etherea glimpses the unlikely figure of Mr Brouček she is gripped with a transfiguring passion for him, and carries him off, causing her admirer, Bounzinček, and her father much perplexity and distress.

Scene 4

In the temple of the lunar arts, the Patron instructs his composers. When Etherea arrives with Mr Brouček, the artists scatter in terror, but soon he is accepted as the latest thing.

Mr Brouček is accordingly subjected to increasingly rarified examples of contemporary arts, and finds a lunar lunch of sniffing flowers decidedly unnourishing.

Etherea abandons all her previous convictions in a desperate attempt to win his favour, but when he is attacked for eating chopped up pigs meat (one of Mr Würfl’s best sausages) he makes his escape, leaving the artists singing hymns of praise to their sponsor.

Scene 5 – Back in Prague

Mazal and Málinka return home as the dawn is breaking. The potboy tells them that Mr Brouček has been found completely blotto.

 

Act 2

Scene 1

Demons from the past seem to threaten Mr Brouček, perhaps because he has been arguing with his fellow drinkers about the underground tunnels that medieval Emperors were said to have constructed under Prague.

On setting off for home, Mr Brouček unaccountably finds himself in such a tunnel where he encounters strange figures from the increasingly distant past.

Scene 2

At this point the Author intervenes to lament the declining character of his nation. Once they were heroes, now they are greedy swine, like Mr Brouček for instance. The Author longs to write anthems for a resurgent nation, not just satires like all this …

Scene 3

‘All this’ turns out to be Mr Brouček finding himself in 15th century Prague which, as a result of the heroic rebellion led by Jan Hus, is under siege from the German armies of the Holy Roman Empire.

Mr Brouček is initially taken for a German spy because of his dreadful Czech, peppered with German expressions, but manages to bluff his way out of this, and is admitted to the house of Domšík (the Sacristan) and introduced to his daughter Kunka, and their friends. Meanwhile the people sing battle hymns in preparation for the coming conflict.

Mr Brouček is reluctantly kitted out in appropriate medieval attire, but shows no enthusiasm at all when it is made clear he is expected to join in the defence of Prague. Once in the battle, he seizes the first chance to run away but is spotted by Kedruta who swears that he will hang for his cowardice.

Scene 4

The people celebrate their victory, but it has been bought at a price: Kunka’s father Domšík is one of the dead. Mr Brouček is discovered in hiding, and is accused of treachery.

The sentence is appropriate: death in a beer barrel.

Scene 5

The landlord of the inn hears a strange groaning from his cellar. He discovers Mr Brouček inside a barrel. Mr Brouček seems very relieved to be safely home at last, but confides to the landlord that he liberated Prague single-handed.

Tickets

Thursday 9 June 2022

5:45pm

Saturday 18 June 2022

5:45pm

Sunday 26 June 2022

5:45pm

Wednesday 29 June 2022

5:45pm

Thursday 7 July 2022

5:45pm