Henry Akona | Director and Composer

Reviews: The Velvet Oratorio

“The scenes are played for irony, contradiction and some bawdy humor, which lends sympathy and humanism to the political subject and the paranoid atmosphere that defined the era.

Henry Akona’s cleverly dissonant, rhythmic music is frequently contrapuntal ... [d]eftly and tastefully orchestrated, there is idiomatic and challenging string writing, with daring double-stops in the high register of the violins, and passages that feature the viola. [T]he melodically adventurous voice parts were sung clearly and affectionately by the participants.

“Like Bertolt Brecht's poetry, this work succeeds by framing the minuscule, everyday aspects of life in the context of oppression rather than insisting on sentimental patriotism or heroics ... a tasteful and thought-provoking reminder of the rapid change brought to Central Europe in those heady and confusing days.”

Musical America

A shifting of power without blood, something almost unheard of in history. The Velvet Oratorio is a play set on this historic event in 1989 Czechoslovakia, following a cast of characters as they deal with this shift of time. Praised throughout, this play may prove an excellent addition to any company's roster. The Velvet Oratorio is an excellent pick for theatre collections and for theatre fans.

Midwest Book Review

“Marvelous and beautifully acted.”

15 Minutes Magazine

“Incorporating primary sources including contemporary news accounts, official statements of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, and declassified CIA and State Department cables, as well of scenes from Vaclav Havel’s Vánek plays and original interviews conducted by librettist Edward Einhorn, The Velvet Oratorio presents an impressionistic but informative overview of the heady days of the Revolutiona well-conceived production that provokes welcomed reflections on the Velvet Revolution and the fall of the Communism in general.”

JB Spins