Ostricil: Jack's Kingdom
KOCI ZIDEK VYMAZALOVA VEVERKA PRAGUE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA JIRACEK PRAGUE RADIO CHORUS PINKAS
The complete recording of Jacks’s Kingdom, the final opera by Otakar Ostrcil (1879-1935), a remarkable fairy-tale work with an antiwar message, is now being released on CD for the first time. It is based on L. N. Tolstoy’s short story about a land ruled by the good-natured Ivan (transformed in the opera into Honza, or Jack) who knows not what spite is. In his kingdom, soldiers do not wage wars, yet dance and love, all diseases are cured and people are happy. Honza brings to all the people the miraculous star of compassion, love and peace, possessing so great a power that it even cures the incurable Princess and prevails over the Devil himself. When the opera was premiered in Brno (1934) and subsequently presented in Prague, it gave rise to a conflict between Ostrcil and a part of Czech society. The reason why the work, in which Honza fights with the Devil, striving to conquer the world, became a sensation was that it was staged shortly after Adolf Hitler had seized power in Germany. In the wake of World War II, another four productions of Johnny’s Kingdom were created in Prague and Brno, with the most recent one receiving its premiere in 1959. The present release features the one and only studio recording of the opera, made in 1954 by the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, with Ivo Žídek, Jaroslava Vymazalová and Premysl Kocí singing the lead roles. The album also contains a unique recording of Ostrcil’s Calvary, Op. 24, made in 1957 by the Czech Philharmonic, conducted by Václav Neumann.