For 12 years Peter Freestone was a personal assistant and close friend to Freddie Mercury, the singer who reached superstardom with the rock group Queen. He was with also there during the singer’s last days in 1991. Since the start of the Noughties, Freestone has lived in the Czech Republic. I contacted him this week after it was confirmed that Queen will release three tracks that time forgot which Mercury recorded with Michael Jackson, a recording at which Freestone was present.
A little bit of music history will be made on Saturday when Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka will become the first Czech opera to be broadcast live from New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The story of a water nymph who falls for a human has long been a favourite amongst Czech audiences, but this ‘Live in HD’ performance will be beamed to cinemas, concert halls and town squares around the world.
This week marks 20 years since the launch of TV Nova, the first Czech commercial television channel. A huge success since the beginning, it introduced viewers to new forms of entertainment and news coverage. The station later suffered from a conflict between its US investors and its CEO which ended in arbitration, marking marked the end of an era for TV Nova. In this edition of Marketplace, I talk to leading media studies expert Jan Jirák of Charles University about the station’s rise and fall and its lasting impact on the Czech media scene.
Markéta Irglová is a Moravian-born, internationally known singer, songwriter and pianist who records exclusively in English. The modest musician was not yet 20 when she became the only Czech woman ever to win an Oscar, for Falling Slowly with Glen Hansard. After the pair went their separate ways romantically and professionally, Irglová – now based in Iceland – struck out on her own in 2011 with the poetic, piano-driven LP Anar.
“Socrates on the Equator”, the latest book by the award-winning Czech novelist, Tomáš Zmeškal, offers insights into a huge country in the heart of Africa that for most Czech readers is nothing more than a name: The Democratic Republic of Congo. His book is neither a novel nor a travelogue, but a many-layered account of a very personal journey. David Vaughan talks to the writer.
This week’s Sunday music show profiles the album Crazy Classic by a refreshing young group called Two Voices. Since they first appeared on Radio Prague the two voices have expanded to four –three female and one male voice – but the basic idea is the same, presenting well know classics in an irreverent manner thanks to the witty and outrageous lyrics by chanson singer Jana Rychterova. So stay with us for some Bach, Strauss and Tchaikovsky in a refreshing new rendition.
A new festival merging electronica music, contemporary theatre and dance with multimedia and visual arts is being held in the Czech capital this and next week. Entitled Spectaculare, the event brings some leading artists of these genres to Prague including Jon Hopkins from the UK and Nils Frahm from Germany. But the event also features several Czech artists and ensembles such as Clarinet Factory and Tantehorse.
Until last year Karel Jaromír Erben’s celebrated collection of ballads, Kytice – The Bouquet – had never been published in a full English translation. Now we are lucky enough to have no less than two fresh translations of this classic of 19th century Czech poetry. Last summer we spoke to the translator of one of the new editions, Marcela Sulak, and this time it is the turn of Susan Reynolds, whose translation appeared in a bilingual edition just before Christmas. She talks to David Vaughan.
Perhaps Brno’s best known street artist, the man known as Timo has just moved indoors for the first time, with a new exhibition at the city’s Off/Format gallery. Timo’s art has been acclaimed as poetic, funny and socially critical; the show, entitled Indoor Adventures, features some of his more subtle pieces, but also offers a sample of his street creations.