Dalibor back on stage
An interview about the new production with Jaroslav Kyzlink, the chief conductor of the National Theatre Orchestra
What does Dalibor mean to you?
Smetana’s third opera is a wonderful work, at once heroic and lyrical … Clearly inspired by Beethoven’s Fidelio, as well as Richard Wagner’s music dramas, it is extremely challenging for the lead soloists, who in the past included numerous iconic singers. On the other hand, its characters are not entirely veritable, being overly idealised. Even though Smetana set the opera to a Czech libretto, he rather perceived the phrases of the vocal parts as German, which causes considerable problems, with the Czech text many a time not being consistent with the music. Smetana splendidly worked with the motifs and superbly differentiated between intimate scenes – the famous violin solos in dialogues with the cello and the harp – and combat or ceremonial passages.
The opera is now being staged in Prague after 17 years – is it the first time you are conducting Dalibor?
I am delighted that Dalibor has returned to the National Theatre. Following Libuše in the anniversary year 2018, we intend to stage all the other Smetana operas by 2024, when we will be celebrating the bicentenary of the composer’s birth. Yet this is the very first production of Dalibor I will be conducting. When I was a child, I heard Vilém Přibyl’s legendary account many times. A few years ago, I assisted with the most recent adaptation of Dalibor in Brno, where I had the opportunity to work with such first-class singers as Eva Urbanová and Leo Marian Vodička … It was a valuable experience indeed, as the opera has been scarcely performed at Czech theatres.