Operatic Masterpiece - Czech!
Ralph O. Padgug | Sacramento, CA United States | 06/24/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Have you ever heard an aria you loved, and bought the complete opera only to be disappointed? Don't worry; that won't be the case with "Rusalka." It's full of wonderful melodies, bouncy Slavonic rhythms & gorgeous orchestration, plus a beautiful, magical story and unique characters. This recording has many superb performers, with only a few weak links. The Czech Philharmonic & Chorus led by Vaclav Neumann are very fine. The two star singers are Gabriela Benackova (exquisite voice!) in the title role and Richard Novak as her Water-sprite father. Both are perfectly cast and convey a huge range & depth of emotion. Tenor Wieslaw Ochman has a pleasant voice, but sadly lacks the power and heroic ring of a Prince. Vera Soukupova as Jezibaba has the opposite problem; she makes a very convincing witch, but her steely Slavic timbre eventually gets too abrasive. The rest of the cast, especially the villainous Foreign Princess, handle their roles very well. The digital recorded sound is clear and atmospheric. Be advised -- the dynamic range is huge -- if you adjust your volume to the soft opening of the prelude, the fortissimo climax may raise your roof a little. One more interesting aspect of this opera: Dvorak was a great admirer of Wagner and his "leit-motives." "Rusalka" has its own underlying system of subtle musical themes that bring out shades of meaning and characterization. But the music itself is 100% full-blooded Dvorak."
Eric Dikkers | Netherlands | 05/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was the first Rusalka I ever listened to and it still remains my favorite, despite more recent recordings. Gabriela Benackova as Rusalka is in splendid voice here and Vera Soukupova sounds delightfully Slavonic as Jezibaba, the Witch. This set is not expensive but would, even at full price, be worth every single penny. A full five star recommendation!"