About the Event
In the impressive interior of Prague's Spanish Synagogue, the Czech Collegium performs a widely varied program, with soprano and trumpet soloists.
Works by Verdi, Händel, and Puccini share the program with Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' and other popular melodies.
The Czech Collegium is largely made up of leading players from the Prague FOK Symphony Orchestra. It devotes itself mainly to chamber music and has been well received both in its home country and abroad.
The Spanish Synagoge is the oldest Jewish building in Prague and boast stunning golden and geometric decorations, with a domed ceiling, Islamic motifs and stained glass.
Some claim the Spanish Synagogue is the most beautiful synagogue in all of Europe. Unmistakably a highlight of Prague's Jewish Quarter, it was built in 1868 on the site of the oldest synagogue in Prague. Its architectural style – Moorish Revival – inspired by the majestic Alhambra palace in Spain, gives the Synagogue its name. A splendid interior, with stained-glass windows and intricate, colorful arabesque parquet conjures up an exotic atmosphere, and makes the synagogue a very special venue for concerts of classical and sacred music. The Spanish Synagogue is administered by the Jewish Museum, and features permanent exhibitions exploring the history of the Jewish people in Bohemia and Moravia.
Georg Friedrich Händel
An English subject with German origins, Georg Handel was truly a musical pioneer, combining musical traditions of English, Italian and German composers. He was born in 1685 in Halle, Germany, into a very religious and conservative family. His father was dreaming for his son to become a lawyer and would not let young Georg play musical instruments at home. But the Duke Johann Adolf accidentally heard him playing in the chapel and convinced Georg's father to let his son receive a musical education. Thus, Handel became a pupil of the famous organ player and composer Friedrich Zachow. The first success came to Handel in 1705 when he moved to Hamburg and staged his two premiere operas, Almira and Nero, in the Oper am Gänsemarkt. Almira immediately became a highlight of the theatre and was performed around 20 times. Later next year Handel moved to Italy were he received high acclaim and was put on the same level as renowned Italian composers of the time. In 1710 Handel travelled to London where later he decided to settle down. There he wrote a sacred choral piece "Te Deum" that was played in St. Paul´s Cathedral at the ceremony devoted to signing the Utrecht Treaty. From that moment onwards he became the leading composer of England, as the country did not have any native prominent composers. His oeuvre was mainly focused on operas, but by 1730 the genre of Italian opera ceased to be popular and Handel´s success dwindled. During the last years of his life until his death in 1759 he was mainly composing oratorias, including his famous and magnificent Messiah.
Giuseppe Verdi was an Italian opera composer. From a young age, he developed a musical education with the help of a patron and soon dominated the Italian opera. In fact by his 30s, he became one of the most influential opera composer all over the classical scene. His most famous operas are Il Trovatore, Rigoletto and La Traviata. Furthermore, he was able to establish himself as a landowner with the income from his successful operas and focus on his private life. However, he soon returned to the scene with his new popular work Aida (1871), and three masterpieces: Otello, Requiem and Falstaff.
Giacomo Puccini was an Italian opera composer of the late 19th century. He was considered one of the greatest composers of the Italian Opera, second only to Verdi. His early works were characterised by features of the traditional 19th century romantic Italian opera. Later, his style developed into the realistic verismo style, which inspired him to write his most famous masterpieces and became one of the leading exponents of the style. His most renowned works La bohème (1896), Tosca (1900), Madama Butterfly (1904), and Turandot (1924), all are popular operas played in the most prestigious venues of the classical world.