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Vladimir Franz

Ludus Danielis

oratorio (1998-89), opera (1999-2000)



The librettos of the oratorio and the opera are inspired by the text of a medieval musical play found in the Beauvais monastery and by the Old Testament story of the prophet Daniel. The oratorio was written and composed in late eighties. But that time ruling communist regime and its state-controlled art unions and organizations would have never permitted performing the work based on a biblical story, the work so infavourable and ill-disposed towards official state ideology. That was the main reason why the oratorio was performed in secret under the pretext of a wedding ceremony. The very first performance of the oratorio Ludus Danielis took place in Prague's St.Kliment church, in July 1st 1989, in audience of a couple of dozens friends and well-informed persons. More respectable repeat of the performance took place a year later within the framework of a Czech university students campaign against breaking human rights in China.

Until today, however, the oratorio wasn't professionally recorded. Vladimir Franz has revised it and in cooperation with the libretist has composed it afresh into an opera (or an 'opera-oratorio') which was to be performed within the framework of a Moravian summer music festival "Janacek's Hukvaldy 2000". Unfortunately, due to some organizational problems the first performance of the opera was delayed.



The story:

The story begins in the ancient city of Babylon, surrounded by hostile army. In order to forget the forthcoming battle, the king Belshazzar launches a magnificent regale. Because he wants to get the favour of his gods, he commands to bring sacred Jewish vessels stollen from the Jerusalem temple. In audience of amazed banqueters, suddenly the fingers appear writing mystery words on the wall: 'Mane! Thechel! Phares!' Nobody's able to find out the meaning of the words but Daniel, a captive Jew and a well-known dream-reader. He explains the meaning of the writing as a warning of punishement - the Lord says Belshazzar's kingdom shall pass to another.

After Babylon is conquered, Darius, its new king, calls Daniel his first adviser. The rest of king's advisers lay a trap for Daniel: they make Darius to edit a new law according to which everyone must worship him as God of all. Daniel is then caught praying to the Lord and Darius has no other possibility than to condemn him to be thrown into a lion's den. At first Daniel pleads the king for mercy, then he turnes with his prayer to the Lord. And the Lord sends an angel to say to Daniel that he's going to be rescued.

Meanwhile, Darius the King restlessly sleeps, suffering from bad dreams and remorse of conscience. Too late he finds that he was guiled. Next morning Daniel is found alive in the middle of hungry beasts. Darius condemns all the envy advisers to be thrown into the lion's den. Then he commands all to adore the Lord as the only God. The angel, who has watched all the events and has been trying unsuccessfully to lead the unwise kings the right paths, fails again. The oratorio as well as the opera is finished with Psalm I.


Ludus Danielis

oratorio

Music: Vladimir Franz
Libretto: Rostislav Krivanek

Voices:

    Darius the King: counter-tenor
    herald: tenor
    Daniel the Prophet: baritone
    Baltazar the King: bass
    angel: soprano
    narrator
Instruments:
    flute
    2 trumpets
    drums
    organ
    double-bass


Ludus Danielis

opera

Music: Vladimir Franz
Libreto: Rostislav Krivanek

narrator:

    Samuel
solo voices:
    Daniel the Prophet: baritone
    Baltazar the King: bass
    Darius the King: counter-tenor
    Nebuzaradan the Herald: tenor
    angel: soprano
choirs:
    Envious ones
    Judean captives
    People of Babylonia
silent (non-singing or speaking) characters:
    Babylonian soldiers
    Medean soldiers
Instruments:
    drums
    organs
    symphony orchestra
Final version (translated) of the libretto is here.



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