OP0411. DALIBOR (Smetana), Live Performance, 9 Jan., 1977, Carnegie Hall, w. Eve Queler Cond. Opera Orchestra of New York; Nicolai Gedda, Teresa Kubiak, Nadia Sormová, Allan Monk, Paul Plishka, etc. (Czech Republic) 2-Ponto 1018. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 8717202250189
“Operas by ‐Bedrich Smetana - THE BARTERED BRIDE always excepted - are not exactly well‐known commodities on the American musical exchange. Thus a large audience availed itself of the opportunity, last night in Carnegie Hall, to sample DALIBOR, a nationalistic opera highly regarded in the composer's homeland - and also, as of last year, in London, where DALIBOR was staged by the English National Opera and created something of furor. It was composed in 1868 and was not very successful. Smetana's public was expecting another BARTERED BRIDE. In addition, DALIBOR was accused of being ultra‐modern, full of the horrid theories of Wagner, Liszt and the other exponents of The Music of the Future.
There are, indeed, certain debts to Wagner and Liszt, but today, on listening to DALIBOR, it is apparent that could only have been written by a Czech. The music is saturated with the Bohemian ‘melos’, even with the leitmotifs, thematic transformations and other trappings of the then avantgarde. Today DALIBOR is regarded in Czechoslovakia as Smetana's most important opera. It also has political significance. The hero is a knight who defied the feudalism of his day to strike a blow for national independence - dying in the attempt. The subject was chosen by Smetana for that very reason. His country in the 1860s was trying to break away from Austrian domination.
There are beautiful things in the opera. It is a work of great sweep and passion, interlaced with enchanting national melodies, full of opportunities for big‐voiced singers to let loose in soaring lines. A large orchestra is used, and there also are some stirring choruses. This is a serious work, and we are in the debt of Eve Queler and the Opera Orchestra of New York for bringing it to us. Miss Queler presented the work with relatively few cuts and in the original language. A strong cast was assembled, and the admirable New York Choral Society held up its own to brilliant effect.
The two leading female parts were sung by Teresa Kubiak and Nada Sormova. Miss Kubiak's work is, of course, familiar to New Yorkers. She has large voice and a rather hard one. There is little sensuous appeal to her singing, but it does have command. Miss Sormova started unsteadily; she must have been very nervous. Then she settled down to a type of singing not unlike Miss Kubiak's - typically Slavic in production, hard and edgy, but also commanding in its way. Nicolai Gedda sang the title role, and he was in good voice. These days his tonal quality is not what it used to be, but there still is power, and the tenor snapped off a couple of resounding high C's. Allan Monk of the Metropolitan Opera sang a resonant Vladislay. He is an excellent artist. The three singers in minor roles were superb. Paul Plishka as Benes used his colorful bass with fine style. John Carpenter sang sturdily as Vitak. Harlan Foss could not be faulted as Budovoj. This was a cast strong down the line, and the credits extend even into the orchestra, where Raymond Gniewek - the concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra - played the second‐act solo beautifully.”
- Harold C. Schonberg, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 10 Jan., 1977