Janacek / Brezina / Prague National Theatre Orch - Excursions Of Mr. Broucek | RECORD STORE DAY
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In April 1920, following 12 years of intricate work, Leos Janácek's The Excursions of Mr. Broucek premiered at the National Theatre in Prague, the one and only work of his to do so. A century later, the self-same theatre's soloists, chorus and orchestra returned to the "Broucekiad" at the Rudolfinum in Prague. The present studio recording, after Neumann's and Jílek's only the third in the Supraphon catalogue, was thus in part made owing to the closure of theatres and concert halls during the recent Covid pandemic. Janácek dedicated The Excursions of Mr. Broucek to T. G. Masaryk, the first President of the newly founded Czechoslovak Republic. Declining to celebrate the two nations' acquired freedom and statehood by foregrounding Saint Wenceslas, Charles IV or another great figure of Czech history, the composer chose as the protagonist of his "national" opera one Mr. Broucek, a narrow-minded oaf, coward, hypocrite, liar, boor and drunkard. A man overly fond of food and beer, possessing a simplistic worldview, suspicious of everything different and unaccustomed, loathing artists and intellectuals. In The Excursion of Mr. Broucek to the Moon, his crassness clashes with the Moonlings' aesthetic, highbrow affectation, while in The Excursion of Mr. Broucek to the Fifteenth Century his unflinching self-centeredness, servility and mendacity contrast starkly with the ideals of the uncompromising Hussite warriors, fighting for "God's truth". As Janácek himself put it: "Broucek embodies our pettiness; made for stage." One hundred years down the road, this picture of the "ordinary Czech" is still befitting, worthy of exposing. The new album features Jaroslav Brezina, brilliantly portraying the lead character, and other distinguished Czech singers, under the seasoned conductor Jaroslav Kyzlink. A significant role in enhancing the recording's quality is played by spatial feeling of the recording process itself as well as by the Dvorák Hall's splendid acoustics and colourful sound. By releasing the album, the National Theatre in Prague commemorates the 170th anniversary of the birth of Leos Janácek, the most globally renowned of Czech opera composers.