THE LISTS OF INFINITY (preview) / Martin Smolka a Jiří Adámek

The hushed opera. Hommage à Umberto Eco.
performance length: 75 min

The hushed opera. Hommage à Umberto Eco. / in Czech with English translation

This “hushed” opera is composed of lists, series, catalogues and indexes, beginning with the most familiar such as the alphabet or the table of the elements. The lists may feel banal – or also dizzying, for instance when it comes to the fantastic imaginary cities of Italo Calvino or the images of an “incomprehensible universe” in the magical stories of Jorge Luis Borges. But the main sources of inspiration for the creators of this opera format were Umberto Eco and his voluminous book The Infinity of Lists.

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The Lists of Infinity is a new version of an opera originally produced for the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava and performed with orchestra and choir. The opera received the 2014 Theatre News award. Although the producers originally did not plan on any repeat performances, this spoken opera, with no characters or plot, belongs on the independent scene. For this reason, composer Martin Smolka rewrote it for a string quartet, harp and piano, and director Jiří Adámek and scenographer Ivana Kanhäuserová created a minimalist design that places the performers in close proximity to the audience.

Appearing in the main roles along with countertenor Jan Mikušek are the actor-speakers of Boca Loca Lab, who – under the direction of Jiří Adámek – are accustomed to musically precise instructions, detailed voice work, and the perfect interplay of rhythmically stylized spoken word.

Speakers: Vendula Holičková, Bára Mišíková, Pavol Smolárik, and Daniel Šváb
Countertenor: Jan Mikušek
With the Pavel Bořkovec String Quartet: Alexej Aslamas (violin), Ondřej Hás (violin), Matěj Kroupa (viola), and Štěpán Drtina (cello)
Piano: Jana Holmanová
Harp: Hedvika Mousa Bacha

Directed by: Jiří Adámek
Music:: Martin Smolka
Libretto: Jiří Adámek
Scenography: Ivana Kanhäuserová
Audio design: Jan Veselý
Lighting design: Jan Kalivoda, Ivana Kanhäuserová
Production: Maria Cavina (
Co-production: Motus – Alfred ve dvoře

Martin Smolka / composer
Martin Smolka began working on the Czech music scene in the early 1980s, when he and Miroslav Pudlák (joined later by Petr Kofroň) helped found the Agon ensemble, which in the late ’80s and early ’90s went on to become the most important performer of international avant-garde music on the local scene, which at the time was dominated by “official” domestic pseudo-modernism. Smolka’s early compositions show the influence of post-Webernism, minimalism, American experimental music, and the Polish School. In the early 1990s, Smolka’s interest turned to instrumental techniques and sources of sound (extremely drop-tuned strings, old record players, various objects used as percussion instruments, etc.) that he used to stylize sounds from nature or from the city. He calls some of his works from that time “sound photographs.” The music of Martin Smolka has been mostly performed abroad, including by some of the most renowned European ensembles and festivals. At home, he is known primarily for his opera Nagano, for which he won the Alfréd Radok Prize. Since 2003, he has taught composition at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (JAMU) in Brno. He also occasionally writes film music. He studied composition at the Music Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (HAMU), but was more influenced by his private studies under Marek Kopelent. Together with Jiří Adámek, he received the 2014 Theatre News award for the original version of this opera.

Jiří Adámek / libretto, director
Jiří Adámek studied directing at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (DAMU), where he is currently teaches. He developed an original form of musical and “sonic” theater that mixes a musically composed structure with stylized acting and an unusual approach to language (the fragmented or rhythmic use of words, semi-abstract clusters of sounds and syllables). He continues to develop this specific approach to theater with the Boca Loca Lab theater ensemble, which he founded in 2007. Adámek is both the writer and director of his musical-theatrical projects, and sometimes composes the music as well. He has spent several artistic internships in France, where he was significantly influenced by the postmodern French théâtre musical. His works have received numerous international awards, in particular Ticks Ticks Politics (2006), Europeans (2008), and the production of The Jungle Book for Prague’s Minor Theatre (2007). Adámek has also created audio compositions in collaboration with Czech Radio (a radio adaptation of Ticks Ticks Politicks, Click on the Video, Marriage Moments, and more). His main contribution to the theoretical study of “théâtre musical” was his doctoral thesis The Théâtre Musical/ Theater Bound by Music (NAMU, 2011). He has also published various analytical articles on contemporary theater for Svět a divadlo magazine.

Ivana Kanhäuserová / scenography
Ivana Kanhäuserová studied stage technology at the Secondary School of Applied Arts in Prague, and subsequently graduated from DAMU with a degree in scenography. During her studies, she worked with Katharina Schmitt (Bernard-Marie Koltès, Quay West, 2004), the Spitfire Company (The Voice of Anne Frank, 2007), Jakub Folvarčný (Through the Ear of Autumn), Veronika Riedlbauchová (Sarah Kane, Cleansed/Depurados, 2010) and other independent artists. Today, she works primarily with Jan Nebeský, Jiří Adámek, and Ivo Kristián Kubák. Besides scenography, she also works in design and interior design and is a member of the NaTebe studio.

Hedvika Mousa Bacha / harp
Hedvika Mousa Bacha began playing the harp at age 10 with her mother, professor Hana Müllerová-Jouzová. She graduated from the Jan Neruda Grammar School with a focus on music (2004), followed by studies at the Prague Conservatory (2006) and at HAMU (2012) under Jana Boušková. During her studies, she attended several master classes with world famous harpists I. Perrin and I. Moretti. In 2007–2008, she studied under Chantal Mathieu at the Haute École de Musique in Lausanne, Switzerland, as part of a student exchange program. In 1999 she won the “Music at Grammar Schools” contest, and in 2002 she received the Anna Hostomská Award at the “Preludium” festival for young performers in Šumperk.

Jana Holmanová / piano
Jana Holmanová is a graduate from the conservatory in Teplice and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. She has successfully competed at various piano recitals (she took first place at the North London Music Festival), and has appeared as a soloist with various Czech orchestras. In 2000, she was made a professor at the Prague Conservatory. Chamber music makes up a large part of her artistic activities. She is a member of the ArteMiss piano trio, which regularly performs in the Czech Republic and abroad. She is also a sought-after accompanist for theater, for instance for the performance of The Magic Flute at the Dejvice Theatre and as a long-term collaborator for the National Theatre (Oedipus the King, Secretaries, The Threepenny Opera, The Hang-Out, and more).

Pavel Bořkovec String Quartet
The Pavel Bořkovec String Quartet was established under the auspices of Jiří Panocha at the Music Faculty of Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts (HAMU), where Bořkovec had been active as a professor and significantly influenced subsequent generations of composers. The Pavel Bořkovec String Quartet focuses primarily on Czech music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Violist Matěj Kroupa is the composer’s great-grandson. The ensemble’s main aim is to promote the unjustly forgotten composers of Bořkovec’s generation, but also to promote “new” music by performing works by contemporary composers. The quartet’s current members are Alexej Aslamas (violin), Ondřej Hás (violin), Matěj Kroupa (viola), and Štěpán Drtina (cello).

Jan Mikušek / countertenor
Jan Mikušek studied cimbalom and conducting at the conservatory in Brno. In 1991, he became the conductor of the Beseda men’s choir in Valašské Meziříčí and second conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno. He continued his studies of conducting at Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts. In 2000, he was made conductor of the Vox Nymburgensis chamber choir.
During his studies, Mikušek began to take an interest in vocals, originally studying under Marcin Bornus-Szczyciński, and subsequently under Terezie Blumová. He also attended regular master classes by Marius van Altena. His focus is on “early music” and new Czech operas. He collaborated with the National Theatre on Martin Smolka’s opera Nagano, Tomáš Hanzlík’s opera The Tears of Alexander the Great, and more recently with Soňa Červená on Aleš Březina’s operas Tomorrow There Will Be... and Toufar. Mikušek is a co-founder of the International Cimbalom Festival in Valašské Meziříčí and as an active player of this instrument has performed premieres of new works by Antonín Tučapský, Vladimír Wimmer, Svatopluk Havelka, Jan Meisl, and Michal Rataj.


Vendula Holičková

Vendula Holičková graduated from DAMU’s Department of Alternative and Puppet Theater. She has worked with the Geisslers Hofkomedianten ensemble and collaborated on projects by director Petra Tejnorová, and joined Boca Loca Lab in 2008. She focuses on all forms of movement theater and regularly appears at the Minor Theatre in Prague.

Bára Mišíková
Bára Mišíková graduated from HAMU’s Department of Pantomime. She has worked with the Ty-já-tr theater ensemble and is a member of Boca Loca Lab. Her main interest today is creating her own works in the area of movement theater.

Pavol Smolárik
Pavol Smolárik studied acting at DAMU’s Department of Alternative and Puppet Theater. He is a co-founder of Divadlo Letí, Boca Loca Lab and the band Fekete Szeretlek (bass, vocals), and regularly appears on stage at the Minor Theatre. He has appeared at the National Theatre’s New Stage in productions by J. Adámek (After Velvet) and P. Tejnorová (Love and Information). In 2005, he received the Sazka Award for Alternative Project of the Year, and two years later the Next Wave festival honored him as Discovery of the Year.

Daniel Šváb
Daniel Šváb completed DAMU in 1999. Also that year, he joined Studio Ypsilon, where he continues to be active today. He has closely worked together with Jiří Adámek, Jiří Havelka, and Braňo Holiček. Šváb is a founding member of Boca Loca Lab and regularly collaborates with the Minor Theatre. Since 2004, he has played bass for the musical ensemble Botafogo.
Support / Thanks to: the City of Prague, Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, State Culture Fund, Prague 7 City District, Harmonie, HIS Voice, Radio 1,, and Motus, producers of the Alfred ve dvoře Theatre.