Smetana: Tajemstvi (the Secret)

Album cover art for upc 099925406929
Label: SUPRAPHON
Catalog: SU4069
Format: CD

The 2-CD gem of comic opera has been rejuvenated in this re-issue!
The secret of the success of the co-operation between Bedřich Smetana (1824–1884) and Eliška Krásnohorská (1847–1926) was mutual trust and reverence for artistic creation. Both of them strove for cultivated refinement of new Czech musical and literary works, and in The Secret they attained an exemplary solution. Following the completion of their joint opera The Kiss, Smetana bore with difficulty the gradual loss of hearing and material hardship. Krásnohorská encouraged him to continue to write operas. She aimed at treating genuine human themes. For The Secret, the second of the three operas she and Smetana created together, she prepared a libretto based on her story set in the present day in the region beneath the Bezděz peak. At the same time, she underlined the plot with detailed drawing of characters, depicting in turn pig-headedness and emotionality, mulishness and loquaciousness, wit and caginess, devoutness and superstition, yearning for love and lucre alike. Smetana found in the gamut of observations of the national character the opportunity for a thorough compositional elaboration. However, the leading of the story lines into a single denouement resulted in an unusually compendious musical expression. He consistently worked with the motifs. The main musical theme, akin to the world of the symphonic poem From Bohemian Fields and Groves, served to render both the presage of a mystery and a dance trifle. Yet Smetana also applied the real sound of flails, imitation of the nightingale’s song, stylisation of a broadside ballad and folk song, set to music a procession as well as a dance of sprites in a dream, composed a fugue and large ensembles, and after he had accorded at least one independent song to each main and minor character, he asked for verses for another spacious scene of the baritone hero. The process, starting with the sketch of the libretto and ending with the completion of the score, lasted from 1876 to 1878. And in all aspects the final result was a true operatic gem.

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