This concert version performance of Jabuka is a part of the big EUROPEAN FESTIVAL OF WORKS FOR THE STAGE BY JOHANN STRAUSS whose aim it is to present all stage works by Johann Strauss. The Festival was inaugurated in 2004, with the operetta Simplicius presented in Coburg, Germany.
Another interesting production was Der Carneval in Rom in Dresden, Germany.
Each one of these three stagings is quite different.
The Coburg production stradles the scenic and concert concepts, Dresden presented a classical fully staged performance. Our Brno performance is a concert version. This is due to the fact that we are not supported by public funds, and also because of the multinational aspect of the performance. This is the first international project within the Festival, with artists participating from four countries, the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, and Slovakia. The production is prepared in two versions, one for German speaking audience, the second, for Czech and Slovak, in order for the audience to follow the plot and characters easily.
This production of Jabuka is made under the patronage of the Czech Johann Strauss Society, which has in its short existence participated in a number of successful projects in Slavkov, Mikulov, Most, and Chomutov, and has cooperated with the week long 2004 Karlovy Vary Festival in honour of the Waltz Kings. The staging at the Spilberk Castle in Brno is the first step for other performances to follow in various European cities.
Last year marked 100 years since Jabuka had its premiere on October 12, 1894 at the Theater an der Wien. Two weeks later, the City of Vienna showered Strauss with lavish celebration in honour of his fifty years debut anniversary. This, Strauss‘ fourteenth operetta, is said to have been influenced by the success of Smetana’s Bartered Bride, which had its Vienna premieres first by the Prague National Theater in 1892 at the Musical and Theatrical Exhibition, and later on April 2, 1893, at the Theater an der Wien, in translation by Max Kalbeck.
Strauss‘ last previous big success was Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron), which relied heavily on Hungarian sound and colour. Thus, here was the prospect of replacing the good old reliable Csardas with the Serbian Kolo, for example. Strauss turned to Max Kalbeck for libretto, but he was only willing to supply lyrics to the songs; another author, Gustav Davis, well known through several of his comedies, was to work out the plot.
Vienna had the pleasure of seeing Alexander Girardi in the role of the executor Joschko, and Jenny Pohlner, born in Brno, as Jelka. Jabuka then appeared on a number of Austrian and German stages, as well as in Prague and Lublan, Poland. Finally, the fate of many of other Strauss operetta caught up with Jabuka, and the operetta gradually fell into oblivion. It is difficult to judge how much this was due to the later uneasy relationship between Vienna and Serbia. Let us hope that our performance will show that this operetta contains a wealth of musical gems, and the libretto is as good as any other similar stage work.