CAST: Armida: Joanna Borowska, Hydraot: Pavel Daniluk, Ismen: George Fortune, Gottfried von Bouillon: Vratislav Křiž, Peter the Eremit: Miloslav Podskalský, Rinald: Wieslaw Ochman, Gernand: Milan Bürger, Dudo: Richard Sporka, Ubald: Zdenec Harvánek, Sven: Jan Markvart, Roger: Vladimir Nachazel, Muezzin: Roman Janál, Siréna: Monika Brychtová
Gerd Albrecht, conductor
Antonìn Dvořák considered opera as the central part of his work and, even though most of his operas are inspired by the Czech national folklore, the subject of the last, Armida (1902-1903) was based on a masterpiece of very different origins, La Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Delivered) by Torquato Tasso, which was already set to music by many composers, and was modelled on the grand opera after Jules Massenet.
The recording I propose you is one of the few on the market, but fortunately it offers a magnificent performance both from the part of the conductor and of the singers. Among them, you will not perceive big disparities, as they are all excellent artists. The title role is sung by Joanna Borowska, who has a clear voice full of expressiveness and who knows how to provide her character of angelic delicacy and grace that she does not forget also in the most excited moments. Wiesland Ochman sings the part of Rinaldo with enthusiasm, giving the paladin a heroic temperament that often reaches boldness. Both are therefore two extremely convincing singers and act wonderfully in their respective parts.
These two characters, who have the widest parts, are surrounded by a multitude of singers with more or less big roles, which often end in the act in which they appear. So, Miloslav Podskalský is excellent as Peter the Hermit, a role he sings with great elegance; Pavel Daniluk in the shoes of Hydraot, king of Damascus, has a magnificent dark voice and a remarkable expressive strength; George Fortune as Ismen, for his part, begins in a rather unhappy way and at first I feared he was an inaccurate singer, but he improved during the opera. Finally, I remember Roman Janal’s Muezzin, who we meet only at the beginning of the opera and in the end of the third act, but who is distinguished by a solemn singing.
Conductor Gerd Albrecht creates a magical atmosphere, which does not emphasize the individual features of the characters, but which allows the listener to imagine easily an enchanted kingdom.
Unfortunately, the sound of the recording is not the best and there are times when the singers’ voices are barely audible, as in the entire second scene of the second act.