The NDM Opera Studio is one of the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre’s platforms thanks to which children can learn various art forms right on the theatre stage, which they may utilize later. The audience meets the Opera Studio members in theatre productions as well as in separate projects. Since its foundation, the Opera Studio has prepared almost 100 theatre productions and the number is still growing.

History of the Opera Studio

When the theatre prepared for the opening night of Janáček’s opera The Cunning Little Vixen in 1994, the opera director David Sulkin wished to cast children for the children’s roles instead of grown-up singers. For this reason, he had organized a casting for children’s roles earlier in 1993. The former musical director of opera Luděk Golat came up with a suggestion that the children who had prepared the opera by Janáček and thus gained experience with theatre operation could continue with this avocation in the productions of the theatre (entitled the State Theatre Ostrava by that time). This was a unique project in the whole country—while children’s ballet schools were common in theatres, the Opera Studio opened only in Ostrava. The Cunning Little Vixen premiered on 11 June 1994 which was the same year the Opera Studio was officially established. There was another casting organized due to which the number of Opera Studio members increased. It was in the 1994/1995 season when children from the Opera Studio prepared a school scene from Dvořák’s The Jacobin and performed in Bizet’s Carmen under the supervision of Lenka Živocká, who has led the Studio ever since. Benjamin Britten’s Noye's Fludde was one of the first Opera Studio’s separate projects. It was performed in cooperation with pupils of the Leoš Janáček Hukvaldy Primary School at the second edition of the Janáček’s Hukvaldy festival and the stage director was David Sulkin.
Moreover, the preparation of Ladislav Matějka’s original opera Broučci (Beetles) based on the book by Jan Karafiát was a great success as well. The production, which was directed by Miloslav Nekvasil and conducted by Václav Návrat, premiered on 21 October 1995 at the Antonín Dvořák Theatre. In 1997, the Opera Studio participated the 3rd edition of the Festival of Music Theatre with this production, for which it was awarded the Libuška prize.

Foto Josef Hradil

Foto archiv NDM
BROUČCI (1995)
Foto Josef Hradil

Projects of the NDM Opera Studio

The year 1996 was important for the NDM Opera Studio as the collaboration with Ostrava composer Pavel Helebrand commenced since then. Pavel Helebrand created a Christmas musical play entitled Jesličky svatého Františka. The production was directed by Ilja Racek and musically prepared by Jan Šrubař and formed part of the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre’s Christmas repertoire for several years. The favourite production moved to the St. Wenceslas Church in 2005 but was taken back to the Antonín Dvořák Theatre in 2015 and 2016. Among other projects implemented by the Opera Studio belongs Hugo Cole’s children’s opera Asses' Ears (premiered on 24 June 1998 at the 5th edition of Janáček’s Hukvaldy festival) or Jaroslav Křička’s children’s opera Ogaři (premiered on 19 June 1996 at the 6th edition of the Janáček’s Hukvaldy festival)—both of them were directed by Luděk Golat and musically prepared by Václav Návrat in cooperation with pupils of the Leoš Janáček Hukvaldy Primary School.
Three pieces by Pavel Helebrand—musical Čarodějnice z Babí hůry written for teenage girls in the Opera Studio in 2002, Ngoa-É based on Aesop’s fables from 2006, and Balada from 2008—were productions that followed and whose stage director was the author himself (first two titles were musically prepared by Lenka Živocká, the last one by Theodore Kuchar).

Václav Trojan’s opera A Carousel directed by Luděk Golat and musically prepared by Jurij Galatenko was staged at the Antonín Dvořák Theatre in the 2007/2008 season. Around sixty children, most of them were members of the NDM Opera Studio, were involved and shown on the stage.
In the course of the 2010/2011 season, the Studio prepared three fairy-tale projects—The Princess and the Pea directed by Leon Juřica; Little Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel directed by Juraj Čiernik.
Benjamin Britten’s interactive opera The Little Sweep or Let's Make an Opera! directed by Lubor Cukr and musically prepared by Jan Šrubař followed and premiered on 18 September 2011.
Moreover, there were other pieces by Pavel Helebrand among which belongs the fairy tale O pejskovi a kočičce (premiered on 6 December 2016) or Evangelium podle houslí that the NDM Opera Studio performed at the Smetana’s Litomyšl festival in 2018.
Besides theatre productions, the NDM Opera Studio has organized various concerts as well— in 2003, the Spring Concert contained music by Bohuslav Martinů, the 10th Anniversary of the Opera Studio Concert in 2004, the 50th Anniversary of the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Drop Concert in 2005 which children’s choirs from Hiroshima and Ostrava participated, Martinů’s The Opening of the Springs in 2009, Tvé světlo Advent concert co-organized with Bílá holubice citizens association in 2012, or the concert celebrating 20th anniversary of the Opera Studio with Iva Bittová entitled Iva Bittová pro velké a malé děti. In addition, the studio produced several CDs.

The Studio in the theatre’s productions

The NDM Opera Studio has participated in productions rehearsed by all four ensembles of the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre. Most of them have been opera works, but the Studio has also done musicals, dramas, and ballets.
Concerning the operas, the Opera Studio performed Puccini’s La bohème (1996), Debussy’s Pelléas and Mélisande (1998), Carl Maria von Weber’s Oberon (1999), The Magic Flute by Mozart (2003), The Greek Passion by Bohuslav Martinů (2005), Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (2008), and many others. The latest opera productions were e.g. Edvard Schiffauer’s opera Vrať nám, ptáku, hastrmana that the NDM staged under the name Zob, zob, Zoban!!!  (2017), Puccini’s The Triptych (2018), Fate by Leoš Janáček, and A Masked Ball by Giuseppe Verdi (2019).

Foto Josef Hradil
Foto Martin Kusyn
Foto Martin Popelář

In cooperation with the drama ensemble, the Studio members guest-starred in The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh (2005), Marysha by the Mrštík brothers (2006), Cabaret by John Kander (2007), or War with the Newts by Karel Čapek (2009). They also rehearsed Gustav Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (2017) or Gogol’s The Government Inspector (2021).
Together with the ballet company, the Studio members prepared The Nutcracker (2001 and 2010), Swan Lake (2002), Spartakus (2005), Don Quijote (2018), or Les Liaisons Dangereuses (2019).
Concerning musicals, the children guest-starred in Friml’s The Vagabond King (2000), Cinderella by Vlastimil Ondruška, Dagmar Hlubková and Tomáš Vůjtek (2001), The Land of Smiles by Lehár (2003), or Wilson’s musical The Music man (2006). The latest productions were Helebrand’s A Buquet (2014), Cats (2018), or Anything Goes (2019).

Foto Martin Popelář
Foto Radovan Šťastný
Foto Martin Popelář