WORKS: The Jacobin
PERFORMER: Karel Berman, Beno Blachut, Vilém Pribyl, Daniela Sounová, Václav Zítek, Marcela MachotkováBrno State PO/Jirí Pinkas
CATALOGUE NO: 11 2190-2 ADD
It’s extraordinary that Dvorák resisted setting this splendid libretto for so long. It suited him to a tee and the result was one of his best operas – rivalling Rusalka for sheer lyrical beauty. The drama has real impetus and the comedy is always buoyant in this heart-warming tale of a prodigal’s return. Dvorák’s characterisation is superb throughout. The young lovers are charming and have an exquisite duet in the second act. Bohus, the prodigal son, is noble without pomposity, and the oily steward Filip and schoolmaster Benda are among Dvorák’s finest comic creations. Every scene is a delight, but the serenade rehearsal in Act II is a show-stopper.
Pinkas guides the drama with a gentle hand. At times, I find his tempi a little slow, though not damagingly so. Karel Berman as Filip and Beno Blachut as Benda are quite simply superb. Vilém Pribyl and Daniela Sounová are attractive as the young lovers and Václav Zítek is a commanding Bohus. I find Marcela Machotková’s Julie rather too tremulous, but she is the only weak link in a strong cast. As a whole, not quite the ideal performance of The Jacobin, but the best we are likely to get in a long while and certainly worth the investment. Jan Smaczny