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.
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