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Svoboda, Josef

Svoboda, Josef

Svoboda, Josef, influential Czech opera designer and producer; b. Ĉáslav, May 10, 1920. He studied architecture in Prague. In 1947 he made his debut in the theater with a production of Kát’a Kabanová at the 5th of May Theater in Prague. His Halka was seen at the Prague National Theater in 1951, and he subsequently served as its chief designer and technical director until 1956. After working on the premiere of Nono’s Intolleranza 1960 in Venice (1961), his Cardillac was seen in Milan in 1964. In 1966 he brought out Die Frau ohne Schatten at London’s Covent Garden, where he returned with Pelléas et Mélisande in 1969, Nabucco in 1972, and the Ring cycle in 1974-76. In 1969 his Der fliegende Hollander was seen at the Bayreuth Festival, his Die Soldaten was produced in Munich, and his Les Vêpres siciliennes was staged in Hamburg. In 1970 his innovative production of Die Zauberflöte was mounted in Munich. He staged Wozzeck in Milan in 1971 and Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera in N.Y. in 1972. After producing Les Vêpres siciliennes in London (1984), Elektra in Bonn (1986), and Salome in Berlin (1990), he staged La Sonnambula at the Macerata Festival in 1992. His Attila was mounted at the Macerata Festival in 1996. Svobo-da’s innovative stage design and production concepts are centered on his creative use of lighting as the crucial element in what he describes as a “psychoplastic” theater experience.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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