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Unfulfilled ambition

Donald Macleod explores Dvorak's obsession with opera and his comparative lack of success on the stage.

Antonín Dvořák was no spring chicken when he found success as a composer. He was in his early thirties before he made his mark in his native Czech Republic, despite composing from a young age.
Donald Macleod follows Dvořák as he attempts to win over successive audiences: from Prague to Vienna, England to America, before eventually returning to Prague and to the opera stage. Who did he need to impress in order to achieve the success he craved?

There was one musical form in which Dvořák never achieved the success he wanted. His first attempt at opera was immediately consigned to the bin by the critical composer and his second, as we heard on Monday, was a disaster. Despite these setbacks there was rarely a period in Dvořák’s life when he wasn’t writing opera.

Donald Mcleod considers what drove him to persevere, when his other works were so well received by audiences at home and abroad. Why was opera so important to Dvořák, and what held him back? We’ll hear extract from Vanda, The King and Charcoal Burner, Dimitrij and Rusalka as well as one of Dvořák’s other dramatic compositions, the tone-poem The Noonday Witch.

Vanda (Overture)
Prague Radio Orchestra
František Dyk, conductor

The King and the Charcoal Burner (Act 11, scene 7)
Lívia Aghová, soprano (Liduška)
Michelle Breedt, mezzo-soprano (Anna)
Peter Mikuláš, bass (Matěj)
Michal Lehotský, tenor (Jenik)
Prague Chamber Choir
WDR Rundfunkchor Köln & WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln
Gerd Albrecht, conductor

Dimitrij (Act 4, scene 3)
Krassimira Stoyanova, sopranp
Münchner Rundfunkorchester
Pavel Baleff, conductor

The Noon Witch, Op 196
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Charles Mackerras, conductor

Rusalka (Act 3)
Renne Fleming, soprano (Rusalka)
Ben Heppner (Prince
Franz Howlata (The Water Goblin)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Charles Mackerras, conductor

Produced by Cerian Arianrhod for BBC Cymru Wales

20 days left to listen

59 minutes

Last on

Fri 8 Nov 2019 12:00

Music Played

  • Antonín Dvořák

    Vanda: Overture

    Orchestra: Symfonický orchestr Českého rozhlasu. Conductor: František Dyk.
    • SU 3007-2.
    • SUPRAPHON.
    • 1.
  • Antonín Dvořák

    The King and the Charcoal Burner: Act II, Scene 7

    Singer: Peter Mikuláš. Singer: Michelle Breedt. Singer: Lívia Ághová. Singer: Michal Lehotsky. Choir: Pražský komorní sbor. Choir: WDR Rundfunkchor Köln. Orchestra: WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne. Conductor: Gerd Albrecht.
    • ORFEO C678062H.
    • ORFEO.
    • 19.
  • Antonín Dvořák

    Dimitrij: Act IV (extract)

    Singer: Krassimira Stoyanova. Orchestra: Münchner Rundfunkorchester. Conductor: Pavel Baleff.
    • ORFEO: C830111A.
    • ORFEO.
    • 9.
  • Antonín Dvořák

    The Noonday Witch, Op 108

    Orchestra: Czech Philharmonic. Conductor: Charles Mackerras.
    • SUPRAPHON : SU-4012-2.
    • SUPRAPHON.
    • 2.
  • Antonín Dvořák

    Rusalka: Act III (extract)

    Singer: Renée Fleming. Singer: Ben Heppner. Singer: Franz Howlata. Orchestra: Czech Philharmonic. Conductor: Charles Mackerras.
    • DECCA : 460 5682-..
    • DECCA.
    • 7.

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