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Dvorák: Rusalka / Chalabala, Subrtova, Haken, Et Al

Dvorak / Subrtova / Haken / Zidek / Chalabala
Release Date: 03/29/2005 
Label:  Supraphon   Catalog #: 7008  
Composer:  Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Ivo ZedekMilada SubrtovaEduard Haken
Conductor:  Zdenek Chalabala
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague National Theatre OrchestraPrague National Theatre Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This film was made by Czech TV in 1975, with a cast of good-looking, convincing actors lip-synching Supraphon's superb 1961 recording of the opera--except for the role of the Watersprite, which is both excellently sung and acted by bass Eduard Haken. The direction is by Bohumil Zoul, who with cinematographer Ilja Bojanovský combines fancy, double-exposed, dreamy, layered looks for the watery-woodsy scenes, complete with transparent Dryads and the like, with super-realistic scenes at the palace that are almost Disney-ish in color and texture. The look is lush and appealing, very suitable for an opera that is not actually supposed to be a study in realism, and while digital technology has far surpassed what is done here visually, this Read more is a handsome achievement.

The singing is first rate. In addition to Haken's important, big-voiced Watersprite, which manages to be both paternal and scary, we have Milada Subrtova's perceptive Rusalka, shy and fascinating and sung with solid, clear tone, and Ivo Zedek's Prince, sung with passion and ringing high notes. Marie Ovcacikova's Jezibaba is different from others I've heard--less chesty, more insinuating--and very effective, and Marie Malkova makes the most of the Princess. Zdenek Chalabala leads a lyrical but finely dramatic reading; there are a few cuts in the score. There are subtitles in French, English, and German. There may be something old-fashioned about this whole undertaking, but it's lovely and enchanting nonetheless, and the singing is on a very high level. Years ago there was a VHS tape available, in (mumbled) English, of some British production of this opera, which took place in a Victorian mansion. It was so fraught with psychological meaning that it was incomprehensible. It's nice to have the fantasy back. Recommended. [3/30/2005]
--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Rusalka, Op. 114/B 203 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Ivo Zedek (Tenor), Milada Subrtova (Soprano), Eduard Haken (Bass)
Conductor:  Zdenek Chalabala
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prague National Theatre Orchestra,  Prague National Theatre Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1900; Bohemia 

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