Czech opera star performs uplifting 'surprise' outdoor concert on Vltava

Renowned soloist Andrea Tögel Kalivodová talks about the unusual performance, spreading a bit of joy during lockdown, and her plans for the future.

James Fassinger

Written by James Fassinger
Published on 24.11.2020 14:00 (updated on 24.11.2020)

Last night may have seemed like a normal evening on Charles Bridge, as people strolled across taking in the sights of the city – until they began to hear an angelic voice coming from the river.

On the ship Explorer, floating close to the bridge, National Theatre soloist Andrea Tögel Kalivodová began to sing opera classics to the hundreds of listeners around. The outdoor performance, which lasted more than 30 minutes, took place on the very day government restrictions on theater and concert performances were lifted – as long as there is no audience.

The idea for the performance came from tour boat operator Daniël Hagen who owns and operates the ship Explorer.

"My girlfriend is a big fan of opera. Our anniversary was last week and we came up with the idea to take out the boat and have our friend Andrea come and sing for us and celebrate it," he said.

"We set up the sound system and went out on the Vltava for the evening. It sounded so great, we decided with Andrea that it could be a wonderful idea to do a concert on the water for the people of Prague," he explained.

Andrea Tögel Kalivodová. (photo: James Fassinger - Expats.cz)
The soloist says this was something completely new for her, singing on a boat in the open-air. (photo: James Fassinger - Expats.cz)

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"We simply wanted to do something for the people as they have no possibility to go to the theater or do something else that would normally make them at least a little bit relaxed, like take a beer with friends," Tögel Kalivodová said after the performance. "Especially now before Christmas, when it is normal to meet even more, talk with friends and family about the past year or simply go out and enjoy time with others."

The soloist says this was something completely new for her, singing on a boat in the open-air. "I have never sung on a boat, and with the beautiful scenery around, the Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, the National Theatre, all that history, it made it a very exceptional moment for me."

Giving a bit of happiness and relief to people during the time of corona restrictions was very important for her. "I must say I am also proud of everyone who helped organize this little concert, because we decided to make it only on Saturday, so we had just three days, but everything worked-out great," she said.

Andrea Tögel Kalivodová performs under Charles Bridge in Prague. (photo: James Fassinger - Expats.cz)
Andrea Tögel Kalivodová performs under Charles Bridge in Prague. (photo: James Fassinger - Expats.cz)

Tögel Kalivodová believes everyone needs social contact and that is in short supply these days.

"For so long, social contact has not been allowed and we miss it," she said. I know we must be careful during this time, and am a responsible person respecting all the restrictions, but I see also many illogical things happening that are hurting our society, instead of helping it, especially with the older generation, it is hurting them. I’ve seen it up close. My 89-year-old grandmother had COVID, even my parents had it, they are all well, but it is a very difficult time for seniors."

As for not being able to perform due to the worldwide COVID lockdown, she says, "It made me happy to be able to perform at least like this as the theaters are closed, and not only in Czech Republic, but all over the world. For example, the Metropolitan opera in New York is closed for one year until next September, in Dresden they tried to work for some time with masks and other reorganization, but they realized it is impossible."

Andrea Tögel Kalivodová (photo: James Fassinger - Expats.cz)
Passersby on the Charles Bridge were treated to the performance of Andrea Tögel Kalivodová on Monday evening. (photo: James Fassinger - Expats.cz)

She says she is using the downtime to learn new pieces, "Actually, I needed to slow down a bit anyway as there is a premiere of the opera 'Le Grand Macabre' by György Ligeti in the State Opera next June and it is an extremely difficult part. There is dialog and singing in English, a really difficult role. It is the most performed opera in the world but in Czech Republic we'll be doing it for the first time."