OP0151. OSUD (in English) (Janácek), recorded 1989, w.Mackerras Cond. Welsh National Opera Opera Ensemble; Helen Field, Philip Langridge, Kathryn Harries, Peter Bronder, Stuart Kale, etc. (Germany) EMI 7499932, w.35pp. Libretto-Brochure. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 077774999328
“Sir Charles Mackerras brought OSUD to the attention of non-Czech audiences with his 1989 ground-breaking English-language recording. The story is a fascinating one, featuring three main protagonists. The composer Živný has a complex relationship, and a child, with Míla. At the opening of Act One, they are estranged, and Živný has begun to compose an opera in which he therapeutically attempts to write out his jealousies and frustrations; by the end of Act One, they have effected a reconciliation. The third major character is Míla’s mother, who descends into insanity in Act Two, an act that ends in a double tragedy. The third act centers on Živný’s attempts to finish his opera (due for imminent performance). Tragedy again strikes.
Janácek’s music includes the polar extremes of unbearably poignancy and the bright-sunshine, carefree life of the opening scene (the latter set on the promenade of a spa resort). The composer’s ability to effect quicksilver emotional changes in a fraction of the blink of an eye needs equivalent quicksilver responses from the orchestra. The opera lasts around the 80-minute mark, and yet is still split into three acts (called, ‘novelesque scenes’ — the breaks between these were minimal).”
- Colin Clarke
“Completed in 1906, OSUD is a marvellous but little known opera in 3 acts. The emotionally detailed libretto is based on a true story told to Janácek in August of 1903 at the Moravian spa of Luhacovice, where he was recovering from his daughter's recent death. His acquaintance, a young woman named Kamila Urválková, spoke of her love affair with a composer who she was not to marry because of her family's objections. This fellow, Ludvik Celansky, even wrote an opera entitled KAMILA about their relationship which was staged in 1897. Janácek changed Kamila's name into Míla and the real life Celansky became the character of the composer Živný in OSUD.
The story begins with the realism of Act I; the lovers are unexpectedly reunited at the same Luhacovice spa. Míla has a son, Doubek, by Živný, and they decide to live together despite the objections of Míla's mother. This first act is melodious and rich in orchestral timbres, notably the waltz-like opening with its Czech folk references and modalities. The lovers' meeting, dialogues and arias in Janácek's ‘natural speech’ patterns are sensitively underscored with variations that depict the rise and fall of emotion, the movement from intimate moments to music of wider dimensions, the fleeting use of unusual vocal patterns (scales reaching to the end of the vocal range, etc.) and touches of ‘location music’ that suggest film-cutting technique. Act II takes place 4 years later; the mother has gone mad, composer Živný has been unable to complete his opera. Míla sees the melodies as ‘witnesses of my shame’, and Živný tears page after page in anger. With other tensions arising in the household at the conclusion of this act, Míla, attempting to save her mother from falling down the staircase, is dragged along and perishes with her. The action makes for some miraculous musical moments. For example, when the song about ‘Fatum’ in Živný 's opera is transferred from piano and harp accompaniment to larger orchestra, it envelopes and expands the emotion of the scene; or when Živný's highly charged aria is suddenly stopped in dead silence before the cadential chord, or when a suspended chord accompanies the little child Doubek who runs into the room to ask if his mother knows what love is. The opera has begun to move away from the realism of Act I into dreamlike imagination. In Act III, a masterpiece of the intricate interweaving of emotions and musical imagery, students in The Great Hall of the Conservatory are rehearsing the score of Živný 's opera. They do not understand the piece and its textual symbols. The child Doubek, now a student at the Conservatory, calls out his mother's nae in response to Živný's description. At that very moment, lightning strikes the composer dead and the work remains unfinished. The opera has moved from realism to the dream of fateful inevitability.”
- Gene Tyranny, allmusic.com