Dvorak: Cert a Kaca Die Teufelskathe
After our complete recording of Král a uhlír ("King and Charcoal Burner"), which won a MIDEM Classical Award, we now present a further instalment of our Dvorák opera cycle with the WDR Cologne Symphony Orchestra under Gerd Albrecht: Cert a Kaca ("Kate and the Devil"). Based on a Czech folk tale, it is the humorous story of the shrewish Kate who allows herself to be dragged to hell by a blundering devil who is out "in the field". The result – for him – is disastrous. The real beneficiaries of this "dangerous liaison" are the crafty shepherd Jirka and a princess who at the start is not well-liked by her people. Gerd Albrecht was able to fill these roles with international stars who all had much experience singing Dvorák already. There was Michelle Breedt in the female title role, who had quite audible pleasure at singing a comic pendant to her serious mezzo roles such as her Fricka for Bayreuth. Peter Mikuláš sings the pitiful devil Marbuel, holding his own against his highly strung female counterpart with his undiminished, rich bass voice; the same is true of his fellow bass, Arutjun Kotchinian, in the part of Lucifer. We breathe a deep sigh of relief along with the Princess when she at the end succeeds in evading the clutches of this arch-devil – especially since Olga Romanko knows how to make her sympathetic, while also assigning her the necessary dramatic weight with her luminous Verdi soprano voice. And as Jirka, Peter Straka proves once more that with his beautiful, idiomatic tenor voice he is unequalled in the world when it comes to the Czech operatic repertoire. The two choirs involved – the WDR Cologne Radio Choir and the Prague Chamber Choir – have also both appeared repeatedly in Albrecht's Dvorák cycle, and their contribution is deserving of special mention here. They play a major role in Dvorák's massed scenes, sweeping the listener along with their rousing, folksy dance and march rhythms.