Foerster: Eva

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Foerster
LABELS: Supraphon
WORKS: Eva
PERFORMER: Eva Depoltová, Leo Marian Vodicka, Anna Barová, Jaroslav Soucek; Prague RSO & Chorus/Frantisek Vajnar
CATALOGUE NO: SU 3001-2 AAD
Foerster was a significant figure in early 20th-century Czech music. Eva, completed in 1899, is the most popular of his six operas and, like Janácek’s Jenufa, is based on a slice of rural realism by the playwright Gabriela Preissová. Unfortunately, the cathartic, propulsive force of Jenufa is missing. Essentially, Foerster stuck to a number-opera format, and his own versification of Preissová’s play often delivers some damagingly trite phrasing. But there is much attractive lyricism of a post-Smetana kind, and Foerster’s handling of the final scene, in which a guilt-ridden Eva is driven to a suicidal plunge into the Danube, is superb.

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This 1984 recording is more than serviceable. Although wobbly above the stave, Eva Depoltová shows real involvement as the tortured heroine. The exception in a strong cast is Leo Marian Vodicka, who is disappointing as Eva’s weak-willed lover. Vajnar conducts with pace and a clear relish in a score which will be of interest to anyone fascinated by turn-of-the-century realism as well as aficionados of Czech opera. Jan Smaczny