In these turbulent times, we’ve decided to open up a new cycle for our readers: Opera PLUS Retro, a cycle of newly-discovered opera recordings that haven’t until now been released digitally.
We’d like this project to spotlight Czech opera singers who have nearly been forgotten, historical figures we can read up on in encyclopedias but whose voices we’ve never actually heard. That’s why we’ve decided to dive into personal collections and choose the most interesting vinyl records and phonograph cylinders for our readers to listen to.
Our first little rarity is a recording of the aria „Co chvíla“ from Janáček’s opera Jenůfa (Její pastorkyňa) performed by Gabriela Hrováthová, the first singer to ever play the role of Kostelnička at the National Theatre. This exceptional singer was often spoken of in the context of Janáček’s life. Not only was she the prefect embodiment of one of Janáček’s most terrifying anti-heroines, but was supposedly also his lover.
This extraordinary singer, who interpreted roles in the alto, mezzo soprano, and soprano repertoire, was a member of the Czech National Theatre’s opera for 26 years, as well as a successful silent film actress who appeared on screen for the last time in the non-silent film Mikoláš Aleš (1951) alongside Karel Hoger. She ended her opera career with a concert Prague’s Rudolfínum in 1961. The date she recorded this rendition of Kostelnička’s aria with piano accompaniment (below) is unknown.