Author Topic: Dvorak's The Devil And Kate - A Fun Opera  (Read 2502 times)

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Offline Superhorn

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Dvorak's The Devil And Kate - A Fun Opera
« on: March 17, 2009, 07:41:23 AM »
  The Met has just revived its production of Dvorak's best-known opera Rusalka with La Fleming in one of her signature roles. It's a beautiful opera and is thankfully no longer the rarity it used to be outside of the Czech republic or old Bohemia, but it's certainly not the only Dvorak opera worth hearing.
 
The Devil and Kate", written not long before Rusalka, is also based on Czech folklore, but is the comic counterpart to the more familiar opera, and in my humble opinion, it's absolutely delightful, and one of the most droll comic operas ever written. Dvorak's music is every bit as melodious as in Rusalka, but the Devil and Kate is a witty and jolly comedy. It certainly deserves to be better known, and I think audiences would find it absolutely delightful if they got a chance to see a production outside the Czech republic, or listen to the excellent Supraphon recording which I have.
 
  The first act opens in a tavern in the evening after a village festival.
  Marbuel, an assistant devil to Lucifer in Hades, is on a mission to enquire about the local Countess who has cruelly forced the local populace into labor for her own benefit. If the story turns out to be true, he is to take the Coiuntess to Hades personally. 
  Amid the dancing and beer-drinking ,Marbuel meets a rather overweight and obnoxious young woman,Kate,who comes in with her mother. No one there wants to dance with her,and she says she would dance even of it were with the devil! Bingo! Marbuel interrogates her,and asks if she would like to come to his beautiful castle where there is always music and dancing. The two do a waltz, and she agrees. To every one's astonishment, off go the two to Hades ! The shepard Jirka,who has just been fired from his job for having to much fun at work ,assures the villagers and Kate's distraught mother that he will go to hell to rescue Kate.
  Act two opens in Hell, which is actually a fun place where the devils sit around singing songs,playing cards and singing. They're just a bunch of good old boys !  Lucifer is angry and demands to know where Marbuel is. Kate enters and is furious at being dragged to hell and won't get off poor Marbuel's back,and she has a criucifix on her. Marbuel is actually nothing but a wimp! 
  Jirka enters and is determined to rescue Kate. But Marbuel and the devils can't stand the obnoxious,overweight young woman.
  A deal is struck. Jirka will waltz Kate out of hell,but not before a sumptuous banquet for her.Marbuel is to go back to the castle where the Countess lives and deliver her to Hades.
 
In the last act, the Countess has learned of the awful fate which awaits her, and repents. She frees the people from their forced labor.
  Then Marbuel comes and appears frighteningly before the repentent noblewoman, and tells her to prepare to go to Hades. But Kate threatens him, and Marbuel is so terrified he runs off ! 
  Everything ends happily !

   Do get the excellent Supraphon recording if it's still available,and I hope it is, but if it's not,it's definitely worth looking for.
  There are no superstars in all Czech cast, which includes Richard Novak as the bumbling Marbuel and Anna Barova as Kate, with Jiri Pinkas and the chorus and rchestra of the Brno opera.
  Kate would have been a great role for Marilyn Horne, and I think that Dolora Jajick,Stepahnie Blythe or Olga Borodina would be wonderful in the title role, with perhaps Bryn Terfel as Marbuel. 
  Get this recording and you'll have a ball !

    :)   :)   :) ;D

Offline Wendell_E

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Re: Dvorak's The Devil And Kate - A Fun Opera
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2009, 08:28:30 AM »
There's also a DVD of Francesca Zambello's Wexford Festival production, to be release in the U.S. on April 28th.  I've already got it in my Netflix queue. 
“Never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.” ― Mark Twain