Alma Rosé (Monodrama)
The story of the outstanding violinist Alma Rosé, who performed on the stages of the greatest concert halls in Europe. In 1943, because of her Jewish origin, she was sent to Auschwitz, where she became the conductor of the women’s camp orchestra.
Directed, translated and adapted by Olga Strusková
Alma Rosé: Sarah Haváčová
Women’s String Quartet:
Hana Dostálová Roušarová – violin
Gabriela Kubátová – violin
Dagmar Mašková – viola
Vladimíra Sanvito – cello
Costumes: Tatiana Karasová, Jana Balonová
Technical cooperation: Marian Schüller
The recording was made in Studio 403
Graphics: Aleš Vašák
Premiere 22 November 2021, 19.30, Werichova vila, Kampa, Prague 1
Produced by JONATHAN LIVINGSTON, Ltd. www.jonathanlivingston.cz | www.vydejsisvouknihu.cz www.vaseprodukce.cz | www.almarose.cz
The performance was created in cooperation with the Bente Kahan Foundation.
Alma Rosé was born on 3 November 1906 into a famous Viennese musical family. Her father, Arnold Rosé, was an outstanding concert violinist who founded the famous Rosé Quartet and served as concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna Court Opera Orchestra for fifty years. Her mother was the sister of one of Austria’s most famous composers: Gustav Mahler. Alma learned the violin from childhood under the tutelage of her father and began performing regularly in the early 1920s.
In 1930, Alma Rosé married the Czech violinist Váša Příhoda, and the couple lived alternately in Bohemia and on concert tours until they separated in 1935. From 1932, Alma led the popular women’s orchestra Die Wiener Walzermädeln (The Waltzing Girls of Vienna), whose repertoire included classical and operetta music. After the rise of the Nazis, Alma refused to leave Europe. She found asylum in the Netherlands at the beginning of the war. She organised private concerts and contracted a marriage of convenience with a Dutch engineer. At the end of 1942, she finally decided to flee the Netherlands – with a false passport. The escape failed: she was apprehended at the French-Swiss border and spent several months in the French camp of Drancy. In July 1943, she and others were deported to Auschwitz. In the camp, she performed under her Dutch husband’s name. No one recognised her for the famous artist she was.
When she passed the selection process upon arrival, she was selected for Dr. Mengele’s medical experiments. One of the inmates working in the filing cabinet noticed Alma, recognized who she was, and brought her to Mengele’s attention. Mengele halted his experiments on Alma Rosé and handed her over to the head warden, Maria Mandel, who was looking for musicians for her camp band. Bands in concentration camps had the job of playing for the prisoners in the morning on their march to work and in the evening on their return. They also served to distract the camp leadership or to entertain the guards at their functions and drinking parties. The origins of the Mädchenorchester von Auschwitz (Girls Orchestra of Auschwitz) date back to May 1943. Its founder, head warden Maria Mandel, entrusted the leadership to Zofia Czajkowska, a Polish teacher who chose the band members from among the female prisoners who played an instrument. However, as Czajkowska had no musical training, the band was of a poor standard – until Alma Rosé appeared on the scene. Mandel immediately fired Czajkowska and replaced her with Alma, who she appointed not just bandleader, but capitain of the whole block. Alma gradually recruited experienced female players to the band, mainly from among the Jewish women prisoners. As a member of the orchestra, cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, recalled, „Alma knew very well that if she failed to form an acceptable band, we would all be sent to the gas chamber.“ Alma survived one year in the camp. In April 1944, she died suddenly and under mysterious circumstances, probably after ingesting poisoned food. Source: Wikipedia.
Mariusz Urbanek graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Wrocław, Poland. From 1983-1990, he worked for the weekly itd. (etc.), later for Przeglądzie Tygodniowym (The Weekly Review) (1990–1991) and Wprost (Straight to the Point) (1992–1993).
From 1994-2005 he was a reporter for the weekly Polityka (Politics), and from 2007 to 2011 he edited Tower of Water, a journalistic supplement of the Wrocław-based Gazeta Wyborcza (Electoral Newspaper), where he oversaw its culture department.
In 2007-2008, he published columns in the financial newspaper Parkiet (The Floor).
He currently heads the journalism and history department at the monthly Odra in Wrocław, where he has had a permanent column called “Stan przejściowy” (Transient State) since 1990.
From 2012 to 2021, he headed the Gabinety Świadków Historii (Cabinet of Witnesses to History) at the Tadeusz Museum. He was co-founder, deputy editor-in-chief and later associate editor of Tygodnik Internetowy TIN (Internet Weekly), published in 2001-2004, and in 2005 co-founded and was deputy editor-in-chief of the Lower Silesian weekly Piątek (Friday).
In 1997-2001 he co-created the cyclical television programme Jsem (I am); several dozen hour-long programmes were produced for TV Polonia and Kanál II TVP. In 2015, his book Brilantní. Lvovská matematická škola (Brilliant: Lviv School of Mathematics) (Iskry Publishers, Warsaw 2014) was nominated for the Identitas literary and historical prize.
In 2017 the book Makuszyński. O jednym takim, któremu ukradziono słońce (Makuszyński: About One Man Who Stole the Sun) won the TVP Kultura audience poll for the „Hottest book of the summer.“ In 2018, this same book won the National Literary Award of Zakopane (Nagroda Literacką Zakopanego).
His monodrama Alma Rosé, directed by Bente Kahan, has not yet been performed on the theatre stage. The Bente Kahan Foundation realised this piece as a video production in January 2021.
Olga Strusková has made over sixty documentaries and has participated in ten Czech-Japanese co-productions. In 1990, she was the first foreign author to receive the award of the Japanese cultural foundation HBF (Hoso Bunka Foundation) for the dissemination of TV drama.
Since 1996 she has also been working in theatre. She has staged more than a dozen successful theatre productions, in which she has contributed both as author and director. For example, the monodrama Jotam, věčné dítě (Jotam, The Eternal Child) by the Israeli author Navy Semel; the monodrama Frida K. by the Spanish author Gloria Montero; Klub ztracených talentů (The Club of Lost Talents), a cabaret set in the Terezin ghetto; Chlapec z planety D. S. (The Boy from Planet D. S.) (2009), which she based on the book Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), Smrt v růžovém (Death in Pink), about the last days in the life of the famous chansonnier Edith Piaf; Milovat život (To Love Life) from the correspondence of Berta Suttnerová-Kinská; Z deníku hraběnky M., Svět naruby (From the Diary of Countess M., The World Upside Down), compiled from the poetry of Věra Weislitz-Lustigová; Vizionář Jindřich Waldes (The Visionary Jindřich Waldes); and many more. In addition to theatrical performances, she has also produced a number of stage and literary programmes, such as: Přijďte nás poznat! (Come to Know Us!); Osm světel (Eight Lights); Narozeniny na planetě D. S. (Birthday on Planet D.S.); Osmkrát mazel-tov! (Eight Times Mazel-Tov!), a tribute to Arnost Lustig; Purimšpíl: O Ester a jiných ženách (Purimšpíl: About Esther and Other Women); and Nebe nad námi (Ha-šamajim me-alejnu) (Heaven Above Us (Ha-shamajim me-alejnu)).
She has published eight books:
Dopisy z Japonska (Letters from Japan),
Metoda Ludmily Mojžíšové (The Ludmilla Mojžíšová Method),
O čem se (ne)mluví (What (Not) to Talk About),
Jak úspěšně (ne)stárnout (How to (not) Age Successfully),
Děti z planety D. S. (Children from Planet D. S.),
Frank Towen: Život s tancem (Frank Towen: Life with Dance,)
Metoda Ludmily Mojžíšové od A do Z (The Ludmilla Mojžíšová Method from A to Z)
Kinue Hitomi – žena, která předběhla dobu (Kinue Hitomi: A Woman Ahead of her Time).
Jonathan Livingston Ltd. (Eva Kaiserová)
In 1996, my husband and I – both printers by trade – started a graphic design studio, which over time has grown into a thriving small publishing house. Throughout the company’s existence, my team and I have worked for large publishing houses such as Ivo Železný and Euromedia Group.
I knew from the start that I did not want to run a large company, as I am interested in many things besides publishing books and wanted to give those activities a try as well.
The publishing house always brought in interesting people from all kinds of professional backgrounds, which is very inspiring. A defining moment was a meeting with two ladies, directors Olga Strusková and Jitka Škápíková. They helped me find my way back to the world of theater arts. Why do I say „back”? Because I come from a family of opera lovers, and I’ve played amateur theatre in the past. And as every thespian knows: once you’ve gotten but a little whiff of the theatre, you’re under its spell for good.
Once again, it started with books. I produced a theatre play based on the book Karel IV. – Tajný deník [Charles IV: The Secret Diary] with Otakar Brousek Jr. in the title role and Andrea Černá and Jan Zadražil in supporting roles. Another successful production was Zastřihávání křídel [The Trimming of Wings] starring Andrea Černá and Miluška Bittnerová in alternation and with musical accompaniment by multi-instrumentalist Alexandra Niklíčková. Together with Josef Somr and later with Pavel Soukup I arranged a staged reading of the short stories Z Oděsy do světa a zase zpět [From Odessa to the World and Back Again]. All the while, I produce various talkshows for Fresh Senior Praha 6, book launches (usually with the help of my daughter), and audiobooks.
The Alma Rosé project was conceived in 2020. Coronavirus put the project on hold. I was intrigued not only by the interesting and tragic fate of Alma Rosé, but also by the possibility of combining beautiful music with acting.
Sarah Haváčová graduated in the field of drama at the JAMU (Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts) in Brno, Czech Republic and studied at the AST National Academy of Theatre Arts (then PWST) in Krakow, Poland, for half a year. After a three-year engagement at the Petr Bezruč Theatre in Ostrava, Czech Republic, she moved to Prague, where since 2017 she has appeared on several stages, including the New Stage of the National Theatre, the Ungelt Theatre, the Pod Palmovkou Theatre, and the Kalich Theatre. In 2019, she was nominated for a Thalia Award for her production Po konci světa [After the End of the World] at the Bez zábradlí Theatre. She has also starred in two Czech-German productions that were staged at the state theatres in Augsburg and Nuremberg, under the direction of Armin Petras. She first appeared on television screens in 2010 as Princess Lenka in Škola princů [The School of Princes], played the female lead in the series Profesor T. [Professor T.] (2018) – which, under the direction of Tomáš Mašín, was nominated for a Czech Lion Award – and her last television project, the miniseries Pozadí událostí [The Background of the Events] (2021), was directed by Jan Hřebejk. Passionate about volunteering, she has helped in an orphanage in Tanzania (2019), planted trees in the forest during the pandemic and worked as an orderly in a covid ward. She supports palliative treatment and co-organises the sixth edition of the multi-genre festival MeetingBrno, of which she is a patron this year.
Hana Dostálová Roušarová – violin
Hana Dostálová Roušarová comes from a musical family in Zlín, where she attended her first music lessons. She continued her studies at the conservatory in Brno (with Rudolf Šťastný) and in Prague (with Jaroslav Foltýn) and graduated in the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum by performing Sibelius‘ Violin Concerto. She later graduated from the AMU (Academy of Performing Arts) in Prague and completed an internship in Freiburg. She successfully competed in the Kocian Competition and the Prague Spring Festival. Since her university days, she has been dedicated to chamber music; she is a founding member of the Pavel Haas Quartet, for example. She is currently a member of the first violin section of the PKF Prague Philharmonia and teaches at a music school in Brandýs nad Labem.
Gabriela Kubátová – violin
Gabriela Kubátová has been playing the violin since the age of six and has won numerous prizes in music school competitions. After graduating from grammar school, she continued her violin studies at the Faculty of Education of Charles University in Prague in the class of Prof. Jiří Tomášek, with a graduation recital in the Suk Hall of the Rudolfinum in 2000. During her studies, she was awarded – among other competition prizes – a diploma for her excellent interpretation of Leoš Janáček’s Sonata. Since 1997 she has been publicly performing in her home country as well as abroad. She regularly appears as a soloist with leading choirs in works by Bohuslav Martinů, Zdeněk Lukáš, Jan Málek, Jiří Teml, to name a few. In 2004 she completed her doctoral studies at the Faculty of Education of Charles University in Prague, where she currently works as an assistant professor and head of the violin section at the Department of Music Education.
Dagmar Mašková (Zajícová) – viola
Born in Prague, where she graduated from the conservatory and the AMU (Academy of Performing Arts). As a student she successfully participated in many competitions, e.g. conservatory showcases, Beethovenův Hradec (Beethoven’s Hradec), etc. In 1988-1991 she was a member of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester (Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra) conducted by Claudio Abbado. This is where the idea of founding the Prague Chamber Philharmonic – whose viola section Dagmar is now associate leader of – was conceived. Dagmar has also worked in the Suk Chamber Orchestra, SOČR and the National Theatre Orchestra. She performs solo and in various chamber groups and also plays the viola d’amore.
Vladimíra Sanvito – violoncello
Cellist Vladimíra Sanvito has been playing since she was five years old. She graduated from the AMU (Academy of Performing Arts) in Prague under the guidance of Daniel Veis in 1999. During her studies, she was a member of the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester (Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra) conducted by Claudio Abbado (in 1990 and 1991) and served in the State Opera Orchestra in Prague (1994-1995). She attended performing workshops taught by Lynn Harrell, Angelica May, and František Smetana. In 1990, she was a laureate of the Beethovenův Hradec (Beethoven’s Hradec) Cello Competition. She was a founding member of Jiří Bělohlávek’s orchestra, which later became the Prague Chamber Philharmonic. In 1999-2000, she was concertmaster of the National Theatre Orchestra in Prague and in 1997-1998, she worked as a concertmaster and teacher in Japan. She has been teaching at a music school since 2008 and has been the associate concertmaster of the Orchestra of the F. X. Šalda Theatre since 2018 – both in Liberec, Czech Republic. She is an active soloist, chamber musician, and an authentic interpreter of Baroque music.
Monika Urbanová – violin
Violinist Monika Urbanová graduated as a Master of Arts from the Prague Academy of Performing Arts in 2011. She attended the violin classes of Professors I. Strauss and L. Cepicky. Earlier she had studied with Prof. J. Foltýn and D. Zarubova at the Prague Conservatoire. From 2009 to 2010 Monika studied with Prof. P. Schuhmayer at the Hochschule für darstellende Kunst in Vienna.
Monika’s awards include the first prize in the B. Martinů Competition 2006 and the third prize in the 2010 Stephanie – Hohl Wettbewerg in Vienna.
She has attended the International Summer Academy Prague-Vienna-Budapest in Austria (2001 – Prof. I. Straus, 2004 – Prof. A. Kiss, 2010 – Prof. H. Shaham), the French-Czech Music Academy at Telč (2005 – Prof. J. Talich), Meadowmount School of Music in the USA (2006, 2007 – Prof. Ch. Avsharian), Encuentro de Música y Academia de Santander (2008 – Prof. Z. Bron, Prof. S. Markovici), and 2009 Summer courses with P. Schumayer in Austria.
Monika is a member of the Prague Symphony Orchestra. As a soloist she has performed with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Philharmonic of Hradec Králové, and the Pavel Haas Chamber Orchestra. Monika has played in a performance of Theater Mlejn’s “Easy Living” – an unusual combination of classical concert with vertical acrobatic.
She regularly makes music with organ and harp. In 2011 she recorded a “Violin and Organ” CD. The Beautiful Strings Duo (violin and harp) recorded a “Beau Soir” CD (2013) and a second CD (2020) featuring contemporary music. Monika discovers new ways of interpreting classical violin works, setting the instruments in a new unusual colourful dimension.