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Bedřich Smetana's "other" operas!


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Author Topic: Bedřich Smetana's "other" operas!  (Read 134 times)
cilgwyn
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« on: February 23, 2022, 06:14:45 pm »

This ones a bobby dazzler! :o :)

Smetana: The Kiss   Opera in Two Acts Eduard Haken (Father Peloucky) Eva Delpotova (Vendulka) et al / Brno Janáček Opera Chorus /Brno Janáček Opera Orchestra/ František Vajnar Supraphon 2 cd's



Arrived today,first listen! Wow! What a lovely,lovely opera! :) I'm impressed! The kind of "find" that has music lover's like me thinking,"Why isn't this better known?" Probably,something to do with the libretto and the slightness of the very rustic plotline,I suppose? But it's all just so melodious and lyrical. Add Smetana's gift for orchestration,an enthusiastic chorus (those Eastern European choirs are always so good) and a great cast and if you're thinking,"Well,it's not as well known or performed as a certain Bartered Bride (Albeit,what happened to that?) & nothing much about it on the internet,so it can't be much cop!" how wrong you are!! There may not be any obvious,extractable,hit numbers or tunes,but oh,what lovely sounds I'm hearing. Never mind the friggin' libretto,with this one! Just enjoy the glory of Smetana's musical genius. No drumming of fingers here,taking occasional peeks at the display to see how much is left (always a bad sign!) this ones a bobby dazzler! Lovely! Nice english translation of the libretto,if you want it,by the way! I do like the way Supraphon utilise the back of the booklet as the rear inlay! Very nifty! I like it! A lovely little opera! But more expense,I fear? :) ;D (Smetana wrote a few!)

Fun fact (and very encouraging) : Eduard Haken was 70 years old,when he made this recording & I wouldn't have known it from listening! :)


NB: There is an earlier recording,available on cd,conducted by Chalabala (love that name!). I'm sure it's good,but I haven't heard it! It's from 1952 and,obviously,in mono! Also,a much earlier one,apparently,c late 40's,conducted by Zdenek Folprecht.
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2022, 10:20:38 pm »

Bedřich Smetana:Libuše    Naděžda Kniplová (Queen Libuše) Zdeněk Kroupa (Chrudoš ) et al  (see below)      Prague National Theatre Chorus & Orchestra/ Jaroslav Krombholc   Supraphon 2 cd's

     

Arrived today! A festive opera in three acts composed between 1871 and 1872. It was written to celebrate the coronation of Franz Josef as King of Bohemia. When this failed to materialise Smetana "saved it" (according to Wikipedia) for the opening of Prague's National Theatre in 1881. This is more like a patriotic, festive tableau,than a conventional opera. It is filled with majestic fanfares,stirring chouses,very slavonic sounding singing (and all pretty good,to my ears,but see review,below!) and Smetana's gift for colourful & often,dramatic,orchestration. It does seem there's far more to Smetana as an opera composer,than the,once,seemingly ubiquitous bride. (I,recently,enjoyed The Kiss! The opera,not a kiss! ::) ;D). The mid 60's sound on this slimline cd release is very good to my ears. There's no libretto with this set,just a booklet with some notes and a track-by-track synopsis. It doesn't bother me. Just sit back and enjoy the show! ;D chose this recording because it was made in a studio & there's only so many times I want hear the same cough! ::) ;D Rather strange artwork!


Göran Forsling loves the opera! It certainly is a wallow!  http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2010/Jan10/Smetana_Libuse_su39822.htm
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2022, 12:12:17 pm »

The Devil's Wall (various soloist's) Prague National Theatre Chorus & Orchestra / Zdeněk Chalabala

     

Wow! This one's an absolute winner! :) I love Czech opera and I'm fast turning into a fan of Smetana's operatic output! (I'm also a big fan of Ma Vlast and the two string quartets). This opera,described as being "comic-romantic" is another one of those Czech operas with folk story inspired plots. According to the Gramophone review of this recording "The title refers to a group of strangely shaped rocks projecting from the Vltava, according to legend set there by the Devil so as to form a dam and flood the surrounding land". I had the opera on Lp whem I was young (see,above right) and you could see the rock on the front of the box! Unfortunately,it didn't make for very exciting artwork! Never mind! The old 1960 recording sounds even better in it's latest cd incarnation. I don't know exactly what Supraphon's engineers have done,but it never sounded quite as good as this when I heard it,all those years ago,on my Lp's. It sounds stunning. In fact,to all intent and purpose,the recording could have been made yesterday! And the score just is,to my ears at any rate,Smetana at his very,or at least,near best. No need to follow the libretto with music this rich in melody and colourful orchestration (what a master,Smetana was!). The soloist's are all superb as are the chorus. I do love these folksy operas with loads of villager's and other characters,seemingly ready to join in,at at the drop of a hat,with lusty choruses! If only life was like that! Love the artwork too and Supraphon's ingenious trick of using the rear of the libretto (one thin booklet for notes & a fat one for the libretto) as the artwork for the back of the jewel case. A lovely opera that deserves to be better known. Just sit back and enjoy! :) :) :) :) :)
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2022, 12:04:28 pm »

Smetana: Libuše  (various soloist's)     Prague National Theatre Chorus & Orchestra / Jaroslav Kromholc    Supraphon 2 cd's   (Recorded in 1965)



I listened to this last night. It's a fine piece with allot of stirring music,majestic fanfares and choruses. Well,worth hearing! A great composer and there's definitely allot more to his operatic output than The Bartered Bride,which,sadly,seems to be less popular these days! That said,I think I prefer Smetana in rustic,folksy mode;ie The Devil's Wall,The Kiss,The Two Widows and Bartered Bride! (Haven't heard The Brandenburgers in Bohemia,Dalibor or The Secret,yet!). I think The Devils Wall is my favourite of the "other" operas,so far! I think I might even like it better than The Bartered Bride!
Returning to Libuše. I am given to understand that there are more recent recordings that are superior,vocally! Unforunately,I'm not terribly keen on live recordings,so I've resisted them & this old 60's recording was in stereo and cheap! The singing is good,to my ears,but one of the women soloist's shows strain when she reaches some top notes! It's not too bad;but she's obviously not quite up to the demand's of Smetana's writing! Fortunately,the majority of the score is sufficiently within her range! I don't know how old she was at the time of the recording & I'd have to identify her name in the booklet (I can't be bothered at the moment! ::) ;D) so maybe her voice had seen better days?! Theory Number two! She had a bit of a cold! I should point out,there is no libretto with the recording. One of the things I used to like about Supraphon was they always provided a libretto with an english translation (often,unintentionally,but,endearingly,hilarious! Unlike Cpo's). So,this is a rather depressing trend! (I rather expect it from the big label's but not Supraphon! And yes,I know they're old recordings,but still.......!! >:()

Odd artwork! I wonder what it's meant to signify? Youth & the future of the nation,perhaps? It's just the shortness of the skirt & the tightness of the blouse?!! :o
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cilgwyn
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« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2022, 01:04:38 pm »



Smetana: The Kiss   Opera in Two Acts Eduard Haken (Father Peloucky) Eva Delpotova (Vendulka) et al / Brno Janáček Opera Chorus /Brno Janáček Opera Orchestra/ František Vajnar Supraphon 2 cd's

As great as Libuše is,this is more like the kind of Smetana opera that rocks my boat! A lovely score,very well performed and recorded to my ears. I have read,more than once,that the earlier recording by Krombholc) is better (more characterful & livelier performances) and from what I know of Krombholc and East European/Czech recordings from that period,I have no doubt it is. The trouble is,apart from the fact that it's in mono (not that I have a problem with that) there are earlier recordings of The Kiss (Chalabala) and Dvořák's Kate and the Devil (Chalabala),both of which I already own in later stereo recordings and if I buy every recording of every opera I'm going to end up with an empty bank account! :(


And I'll repeat this fun fact (hope,even at my age!) : Eduard Haken was 70 years old,when he made this recording & I wouldn't have known it from listening! :)

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