A bad knight

When, early in 1847, the Schumanns returned home to Dresden from a concert tour, Robert found himself all fired up with the idea of writing an opera. He chose (surprise! surprise!) a romantic tale of crusades, knights and damsels in distress (with a bit of magic thrown in for good measure). The story centres on […]

Rhenish

Robert Schumann wrote four symphonies. The last of them, the third (don′t ask! …well, not yet, anyway) was dubbed – not by Schumann – The Rhenish. With the exception of one movement, it’s a rather jolly work and its nickname seems, for once, almost justified [seeming to conjure the great waterway (of course); jolly peasants; […]

Z mrtvého domu — From the House of the Dead

Z mrtvého domu (From the House of the Dead) is Janáček’s last opera, he died before he could finish editing the third/last act of the work. The libretto – written by the composer – is based on Dostoyevsky’s semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. More diary/reportage than novel, the Memoirs from the House of the Dead was based on Dostoyevsky’s own […]

To the woods!! To the woods!!

In contrast to the slightly less well-known stories of Mr. Brouček’s unfortunate entanglements with the moon and the 15th century, Janáček’s other comic opera is perhaps his most famous. The magical Příhody lišky Bystroušky (literally The Tales of Vixen Sharp-Ears) is better known in English as The Cunning Little Vixen. The story started its life as an illustrated […]