|Photo: Clive Barda for the BBC|
But where Wagner's grand fabric is woven from the top throughout, Dvorak's is a more patchy affair. Though individual characterisations in the music are pretty much on the money they sit proud of the piece, belonging to the Grand Opera tradition rather than any revolutionary Gesamtkunstwerk (that had had its final essay in Parsifal five years previously). I liked Benda's silly scene with the lovers Jiri and Terinka (also with the chorus) and the climactic, touching confrontation between Julie and the Count. Elsewhere melody comes and goes (with some expert modulation of pace by conductor Jiri Behlolavek) but there seems little to get a real grip on.
The team of soloists is much the same as that which put on The Bartered Bride last year - idiomatic Czech voice production, let alone in the snap and crackle of the language. The BBC Symphony Orchestra (Stephen Bryant leading with some fine playing) was augmented by the BBC Singers and a pair of children's choirs. Kenneth Richardson produced a nice simple stage arrangement. I left with a warm heart to take on the city cold.