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<<  -- 2 --  Roderic Dunnett    LISZTIAN VISION

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It seems ironic that Sárka has seen, apparently, only one foreign production -- and that received tremendous popular and critical ratings -- in Ireland, at the Theatre Royal, Wexford, as part of the l996 Wexford Opera Festival. The forest scene in Act II, climaxing in the heroic love duet [listen -- CD 2 track 5, 3:14 -- 4:10] of the former antagonists Ctirad and Sárka, which seals their fate, proves (with Depoltová and the equally impressive Vilém Pribyl) one of the most musically gripping found in any East European opera. Its action is set in and around historic Vysehrad, seat of the early Czech kingdom, and the choruses (here members of the Janácek Philharmonic chorus with the Brno State Philhamonic Orchestra) [listen -- CD 1 track 13, 2:48 -- track 14, 0:26] knock socks off anything outside Russian and Italian 19th century opera, except possibly Berlioz's Trojans and Wagner's Walkure, while offering a glimpse ahead to the Puccini of Suor Angelica and Poulenc of The Carmelites. In short, Sárka has just about everything.

Fibich: Symphony No 1; At Twilight; The Romance of Spring (c) 1995 Supraphon Records

A few Fibich works -- his widely transcribed Poème [listen -- track 5, 6:17 -- 7:20], for instance -- have long enjoyed a wide popularity. Now, thanks to Supraphon's issue of more CD recordings for the international market, the outside world is beginning to perceive Fibich's music more in the round. Nonetheless the lion's share of the celebration of Fibich's double anniversary has been going on in Prague. Amongst the commemorative schemes planned or in progress, under the twin auspices of the Zdenek Fibich Society and the Czech Ministry of Culture, were a permanent Fibich exhibition, the establishment of a Fibich memorial hall, the belated placing of a plaque on Fibich's Prague house, the commissioning of a sculpture, the creation of an exhibition at his birthplace in Vseborice, a memorial event at the graveside at the Prague Spring Festival, the establishment of a Fibich information centre and archive, the creation of a Fibich database, a new published catalogue, the issue of a Supraphon recording of Fibich's last opera The Fall of Arkona, a new edition of the monograph by Fibich Society chairman Jaroslav Jiranek and a series of conferences on Fibich and melodrama whose papers and proceedings will subsequently be published.

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Copyright © 16 January 2001 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

 

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