Leoš Janaček – Osud
CAST: Mìla Valková: Helen Field, Živný: Philip Langridge, Mìla’s mother: Kathryn Harries, A poet/A student/Hrazda: Peter Bronder, Dr Suda: Stuart Kale
Orchestra and Chorus of Welsh National Opera
Sir Charles Mackerras, conductor
Osud (Destiny) is an opera composed by Leos Janaček soon after the most famous Jenufa (1903-1907). The libretto is strongly autobiographical, since the protagonist, Živný has much in common with the composer (the loss of a daughter, his profession…). Janaček was also inspired by an episode that he had learned at first hand. A woman he met at the spa, Kamila Urválková, told him that a composer, Ludvic Čelanský, had set to music their romance ended by her parents, creating the opera Kamila, first staged in Prague in 1897. Osud becomes then a reply to Kamila.
During Janaček’s life, Osud was never performed, due to continuous delays of the theatres, despite the composer’s threats to start a lawsuit. One of the reasons of these delays must have been the clumsiness of the libretto, co-written by the composer and a twenty-years-old teacher, Fedora Bartošova. The music was broadcasted by radio for the first time in 1934.
Sir Charles Mackerras gives us an intense reading, scrupulously attentive to the orchestral colours, so that from the beginning it is possible to predict the final catastrophe. For their part, the two protagonists are absolutely excellent. The tenor Philip Langridge has a full and expressive voice, which allows him to create a well-rounded character, while the soprano Helen Field, even though she has not a beautiful voice, knows how to use it well and portrays Mìla in a tragic and magnetic way. Kathryn Harries is also very good as Mìla’s mother, of whom she clearly understands the insanity and knows how to make it realistic.
The opera is sung in English. The translation of the libretto is by Rodney Blumer.