Jun 14, 2021Liked by Opera Daily

Beautiful choices - thank you

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Jun 20, 2021Liked by Heather Johnson, Opera Daily

Once again I have learned how procrastination can be the road to hell that's "paved with good intentions". Had I taken the time to listen last Sunday when Heather Johnson's post hit my inbox, I could have enjoyed the extraordinarily beautiful voice of Slovakian soprano Gabriela Beňačková all week long, instead of in a last-minute, post-Jubilee Day scramble. Even so, I'm happy to have had a new musical frontier to explore - the composers, operas, stories and artists found in the Slavic tradition.

I suspect I would be hard pressed to find anyone better than Gabriela Beňačková to perform those two arias by her Czech kinsmen: “Jenůfa's Prayer” from "Jenůfa" by Leoš Janáček and "Měsíčku a nebi hlubokém" (“Song to the Moon”) from "Rusalka" by Antonín Dvořák. Even without understanding the language, her calm, emotion-laden, lyrical soprano moved me deeply.   

So, too, did the filmed version I watched of  "Jenůfa" with English subtitles (JENUFA Leoš Janáček: - Její Pastorkyňa - YouTube). Janáček drew his inspiration from his unique cultural traditions, even though he shared the same musical language as French, Italian, and German opera composers. This opera sounded different, more dialectical, more modern. I hope this isn't sacrilegious, but at times "Jenůfa" reminded me of  American musical theater, perhaps because it was reportedly "among the first operas written in prose", and was "known for its unsentimental realism". (Jenůfa - Wikipedia).

Leoš Janáček  (Leoš Janáček - Wikipedia) and Gabriela Beňačková (Gabriela Beňačková - Wikipedia) have been a real gift to my eyes and ears. Thanks to “L’altra notte infondo al mare” from "Mefistofele" by Arrigo Boito, and “Jewel Song” from "Faust" by Charles Gounod, I'm signed up for life in theGabriela Beňačková fan club 🤩. (Move over, Leyla Gencer and Edita Gruberova!😍)

Saved for future reading and listening:

Antonín Dvořák ("Rusalka") 

Arrigo Boito ("Mefistofele") 

Charles Gounod ("Faust") 

 So much opera, so little time! Thank you, Heather!

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I am so THRILLED you find her as wonderful as I. I feel like I discovered an incredible gift when I really dug into her singing. I love you observation about Janáček, it IS a bit like musical theater in a way. Some of it is very speech like and so text driven like musical theater. I saw Jenůfa for the first time at Glimmerglass Opera in 2005 and it changed my life. It is truly one of the most heart breaking and yet hopeful operas and finding Beňačková 's performances had me mesmerized. You can I can be co-presidents of her fan club!

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I'll take a membership in that fan club any day! Sometimes I drag my feet to the next weekly offering because I'm just not ready to leave the present week's. I might want to nourish my inner drama queen with "Tosca", or get all weepy with "La Bohème", or swoon over Jonas Kauffmann. If I do that, though, I run the risk of missing a Gabriela Beňačková or a Sonya Radvanovsky. So I'm just gonna keep running with you divas.💐

P.S. I stumbled upon this gossipy piece: https://idolcelebs.org/gabriela-benackova/. It could be crock, but she's clearly getting the celebrity treatment.😀

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