97-year-old Czech opera star performs ode to Bohemian saint in Rome

Soňa Červená sang the role of St. Ludmila in Italian in an oratory performed in the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran Thursday night.


Written by ČTK Published on 30.09.2022 08:47:00 (updated on 30.09.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Rome, Sept 29 (ČTK special correspondent) - Thursday's performance of the oratory "Touch of Eternity" in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, composed in homage to St. Ludmila, was one of the most significant cultural events to take place during the Czech EU presidency yet.

A number of guests representing the Czech Republic and the Vatican attended the performance. The lead role was performed by Czech mezzo-soprano Soňa Červená who sang the part of St. Ludmila in Italian.

Červená, who turned 97 three weeks ago, came to Rome on Wednesday, boarding a special government aircraft with a Czech delegation, in order to take part in the national mass in St. Peter's Basilica, held on the occasion of the St. Wenceslas holiday.

The oratory was composed by conductor Jan Zástěra. Zástěra conducted the Teplice North Bohemia Philharmonic Orchestra along with the Kuhn Mixed Ensemble on Thursday evening.

EXPATS EXPLAINS|A Czech opera legend whose life and career was deeply impacted by WWII and the subsequent communist takeover, Soňa Červená spent a life performing abroad despite remaining persona non grata in the Czech lands. Filmmakers captured her triumphant return in the documentary "Červená" (she was 92 when the film was made). The film explores the heartbreaking but mostly inspiring stories from her past which include collaborations with American director Robert Wilson and musicians Tom Waits and Lou Reed.

Along with Červená, additional roles were performed by Czech singers Lucie Hájková, Petr Nekoranec, Jiří Brückler, and Boleslava and Jiří Hájek.

The performance commemorated last year's 1,100th anniversary of the martyr's death. It was postponed by a year due to the pandemic.

The Czech national evening was the culmination of the two-day celebration of two Czech saints, St. Wenceslas and his grandmother, St. Ludmila.

It was held under the auspices of Prime Minister Petr Fiala and attended by Culture Minister Martin Baxa and dignitaries from the Czech Catholic church and Vatican. Czech ambassador Vaclav Kolaja as well as representatives of the Bohemian Heritage Fund organized the concert.

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