University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

University of Hartford

When the University of Hartford was incorporated just over 50 years ago by business and community leaders, they envisioned a center of education and culture for Greater Hartford. Read more...

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Smetana: The Devil's Wall

09/17/2023 1:00 pm
09/17/2023 4:30 pm


Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

Called Certova Stena in Czech, this was Bedrich Smetana's eighth and last opera, which was not well received at its premiere in 1882. Some considered it the work of a madman. Amazingly, Smetana had been stone deaf for years before he wrote it. He had already brought forth two operas also without being able to hear a note of them. The story of this opera he took from Bohemian legend: how the Devil tried to stop the founding of a monastery in the Bohemian Forest by damming up the headwaters of the river Moldau. The devil, Rarach, is an opera buffa villain, and romance is tangled up in the plot. The Devil's Wall is suffused with that same wonderful, melodious, pictorial quality to be found in Smetana's famous tone poem, Ma Vlast.

Way back on Sunday, July 15, 1984 I aired the three-LP set that Supraphon, the old Soviet-era Czechoslovak national record label, issued in 1962 in early stereo sound, with Zdenek Chalabala conducting the Prague National Theatre Chorus and Orchestra. I broadcast it twice again on Sundays in September of 1994 and 2006. This LP recording, I have discovered, is quite rare and remains as a little audio gem residing in our WWUH classical music record library. As far as I can ascertain, it is the one and only recording of this work, and it has never been reissued on compact disc. All the more reason to let you listeners enjoy it a fourth time today.