Kennedy Center: “Vitka - Lady in a Bow tie”

Sept. 29, 2018

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The tragedy of Europe’s great forgotten female composer, Vitka kaprÁlovÁ

“On Sunday, September 30 at 6:00 p.m. Karolina Syrovatkova performed to great acclaim her latest drama concert titled “Vitka - Lady in a Bow Tie” on the Millenium Stage at the Kennedy Center.”

If you have never heard of Vítězslava Kaprálová, it is because she died in 1940 at age 25 “on the cusp of greatness” as one historian writes. Vitka as she was endearingly called, was an enormous talent that was stopped too early by tuberculosis and second World War. She came back to share her life story on the stage of the Kennedy Center, a story that was unravelling against the backdrop of the exciting period of European history between the world wars.

Karolina had been a child actress for Czechoslovak Television, and in recent years she has revived her acting talents in a series of performances called Living with the Great Composers. She says, “In preparing to perform any piece, I always try to learn as much as possible about the composer and to enter into his or her life of feeling and thought. I want to share what I have learned with my audience. Of course, it affects my performance of the music, but drama offers another channel.” In these performances she plays the role of a woman close to the composer. The first was Clara, a great pianist and wife of Robert Schumann and close friend of Johannes Brahms. Clara was followed by Fanny Mendelssohn, sister of Felix and actually the composer of hundreds of pieces originally attributed to him. Then came Karoline, the muse of Schubert; then Olga, the daughter of Leoš Janáček and now, “Vitka.”

You can see the performance here: