Václav Neumann / Prague National Theatre Chorus / Prague National Theatre Orchestra

Leos Janácek: The Excursions of Mr. Broucek

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This 1962 recording of The Excursions of Mr. Broucek, Janácek's only mature comic opera, is reissued as part of Supraphon's series, Czech Opera Treasures, recordings of complete operas from its archive made available for the first time on CD. This is a historic release because it is the first recording in Czech, and the one that brought the opera to the attention of the West. At this point, though, it is of interest primarily as a historical document because it uses the heavily edited edition of the score that smoothed out the composer's idiosyncrasies and makes the opera sound sweetly and lushly post-Romantic. The 2008 Deutsche Grammophon recording, with Jirí Belohlávek leading the BBC Singers and Symphony Orchestra, takes precedence because it uses the critical edition of the score by Charles Mackerras and Jirí Zahrádka that reinstates the composer's intentions and is a far more authentic representation of the opera. That recording, with Czech singers in all the principal roles, is superb, and the sound is state of the art. On its own terms, the Supraphon release is very fine. It also features an all-Czech cast, almost all of whom have excellent, expressive voices, so the performance is idiomatic, and the soloists are so at ease in their roles that they sing with an infectious abandon that brings the comedy to roaring life. Václav Neumann vivacious, dramatic account of the funny and imaginative opera is thoroughly engaging. Supraphon's sound is vintage for Eastern Europe in the early '60s, that is to say somewhat thin and not especially warm or detailed, although the remastering goes a long way toward bringing the sound closer to contemporary standards.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
The Excursions of Mr. Broucek
1 3:20
2 5:25
3 2:18
4 5:43
5 4:21
6 5:13
7 5:28
8 5:22
9 3:07
10 7:37
11 5:44
12 3:03
13 2:59
14 3:41

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
The Excursions of Mr. Broucek
1 3:08
2 4:07
3 4:10
4 6:26
5 2:36
6 5:44
7 4:08
8 4:42
9 3:32
10 3:59
11 4:13
12 2:25
13 3:27
blue highlight denotes track pick