An opera performed in a language nobody understands

Apr 18, 2018 · 2 min read

Languages are made for communication, we suppose. However sometimes a language is used even nobody can understand it. Especially in the fields of art, as it just happened in an opera at The National Theater Prague. The premiere of the opera “La suferoj de la princo Sternenhoch” (The Sorrows of Prince Sternenhoch) on the 7th of this month was performed completely in Esperanto, and- it was a success. Of course there are Esperanto speakers in Prague, but probably this evening there were only a few at the opera house.

The author of the libretto wanted the text to be in an incomprehensible language. He wanted his audience to listen to the melody and not decipher the words, so he looked for a language that is similar to Italian, but not Italian, the language of the opera.
The text was translated into Esperanto by Miroslav Malovec. The music from the composer Ivan Acher was actually adapted to the Esperanto text, not the text to the music. This performance with beautiful voices proves again that Esperanto is a language well capable to communicate thoughts and feelings.

The opera is based on a grotesque expressionist novel by the eccentric Czech author Ladislav Klíma (1878–1928);
A young man who has just given up his studies, more or less rushes through his life. Murder, dreams of murder, the philosophizing of the five main characters determine the opera. Actually it is a horror spectacle, where the main characters are human monsters, but here the paradoxical nature of pure spirituality is mixed with a dark and comical humor. All ends with the madness of Sternenhoch as an ultimative salvation.

So here we are, Esperanto created about 130 years ago as a tool for worldwide communication serves as entertainment on a national stage. Perhaps its sung beauty will make some people think of its wider application.


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