Thursday, November 4, 2010

Czech Gestures

In America, we have a lot of gestures we think are fairly universal. Shrugging your shoulders means “I don’t know.” Holding your thumb upright outstretched from a closed fist means “good job” or “ok.” While these are found in Czech culture, there are other gestures that are not found in American culture.

For example, pointing at your forehead or temple with your finger means, “You’re stupid or not that bright.” Holding one’s hand in a closed fist with the thumb inside is a way to wish someone good luck. Slapping one’s palm over the top of their fist is an obscene gesture related to sex. Holding one’s hand with the fingers outstretched, thumb pointed toward the nose, is a way or ridiculing or jeering the other person. Holding your hand in a fist with the index finger and pinkie outstretched is a rude gesture to indicate to the receiver that their partner is cheating on them. It’s often used at football (soccer) games when the crowd disagrees with the referee’s decision.

-Heather Tinley, Opera Colorado Marketing Coordinator

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Kure Na Paprice (Chicken Paprika)

Kure Na Paprice (Chicken Paprika)

Ingredients
-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, cut into chunks
-4 teaspoons paprika
-1 Tablespoon butter
-1 Tablespoon olive oil
-½ cup onion, chopped
-1 cup chicken broth
-¼ cup sour cream
-Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions
1. Season chicken with 1 teaspoon paprika, salt and pepper.
2. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium to high heat and sauté chicken on both sides until thoroughly cooked. Set aside.
3. Add butter to skillet. Sauté onion until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Add remaining 3 teaspoons paprika and stir.
5. Add chicken broth to mixture and boil until sauce is thickened, about 8 minutes.
6. Place chicken back in skillet. Turn heat down to low and add sour cream, mixing to blend thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve with knedlíky (dumplings).

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

-Heather Tinley, Opera Colorado Marketing Coordinator

Clementinum

The second largest complex of buildings (after Prague Castle), the Clementium has had a long and fascinating history and includes some of Prague’s most interesting architecture. It began life as an 11th-century chapel to St. Clement and eventually became a Jesuit college for hundreds of years. In 1773, it was established as an observatory, library, and university by the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria.

In the 20th century, the Clementinum was incorporated into the National Library system and it is home to more than five million books. (Ironically, during its time as a Jesuit college, about 30,000 “heretical” books were burned in one of the courtyards.)

The complex includes five courtyards, the St. Salvator Church, St. Clements Church, and the Italian Chapel. The complex is also home to the Mozart Hall, which houses some of Mozart’s original manuscripts. Visitors to the Clementinum can also visit the Baroque Library Hall, the home of the Czech National Library, with 20,000 books dating back to the 16th century. There’s also the Astronomical Tower; you can climb 172 steep steps to the top for amazing views of Prague. The music lover’s visit wouldn’t be complete without touring the Mirror Chapel, a gorgeous space with extensive frescoes, artwork, carvings, and (you guessed it) mirrors. The Chapel also has an 18th-century organ played by Mozart himself.

-Heather Tinley, Opera Colorado Marketing Coordinator

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dvořák and His Wife

Dvořák married Anna Cermakova on November 17, 1873. They would be together until his death over forty years later, and had nine children, six of whom survived to adulthood. Yet Anna had not been his first choice. Initially, he had fallen for her sister Josefina, who was studying piano with him, but Josefina would not have him and married instead an aristocrat, becoming the Countess Kaunitz. However, all parties remained on good terms and Dvořák kept track of which of his compositions Josefina particularly liked, sometimes quoting their melodies in new works in tribute to her. Apparently, he thought she would appreciate the gesture, and perhaps also knew that Anna would not mind.

-Betsy Schwarm, long-time announcer/producer for KVOD and music professor