Album detail
Catalogue number: SU 4339-2

On Friday 21 June 2024, Supraphon and the National Theatre in Prague, in collaboration with the Leoš Janáček Foundation, will release a double album containing a new studio recording of Leoš Janáček’s opera The Excursions of Mr. Brouček, an absurd burlesque laying bare the Czechs’ chronic moral deficiencies. The recording, to be released on 2CD and in digital formats, was made at the Dvořák Hall of Prague’s Rudolfinum, whose splendid acoustics and colourful sound played a considerable role in enhancing the recording’s quality. Marking the 170th anniversary of Leoš Janáček’s birth, The Excursions of Mr. Brouček album is a contribution to the current Year of Czech Music.

One hundred and four years have passed since the National Theatre in Prague hosted its world premiere, and it has been 42 years since the release of the piece’s most recent studio recording, made by the conductor František Jílek and featuring the tenor Vilém Přibyl in the title role. The Excursions of Mr. Brouček is the one and only Janáček opera to have received its world premiere in Prague (in 1920). Made up of two parts – The Excursion of Mr. Brouček to the Moon and The Excursion of Mr. Brouček to the Fifteenth Century – the opera was performed in line with Jiří Zahrádka’s new critical edition (Universal Edition). The studio recording is based on the most recent National Theatre Opera production in Prague (premiered in 2018), with the National Theatre Orchestra under the distinguished conductor Jaroslav Kyzlink. “After completing the 1908 version of Jenůfa, Janáček sought a subject for a new opera. He ultimately composed a satirical opera, The Excursion of Mr. Brouček to the Moon. A decade later, he wrote The Excursion of M. Brouček to the Fifteenth Century, instigated by Otakar Ostrčil’s idea to reflect the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic. The two operas differ significantly, not only in terms of the musical idiom and libretto, but also as regards the compositional techniques applied. In a nutshell, The Excursion of Mr. Brouček to the Moon is a wonderful surrealistic waltz, gliding in a gentle lightened dance rhythm, while the orchestration of The Excursion of Mr. Brouček to the Fifteenth Century includes organ and bells. As in other Janáček works, the instrumentation is extraordinary and extremely colourful,” says Jaroslav Kyzlink.

The title character, Matěj Brouček, is portrayed by the tenor Jaroslav Březina, a soloist of the National Theatre Opera and the State Opera, who points out: “I consider the opera a true masterpiece, teeming with humanity, feelings and emotions, simply everything the spectator needs. Although my role does not require extreme vocal registers, it contains numerous technically challenging aspects. There are hidden, incomplete harmonies, as Janáček was simply a very singular composer. He was particularly interested in speech rhythm, on which he based his musical line.” The other roles are performed by Alžběta Poláčková, Martin Šrejma, František Zahradníček, Jiří Sulženko and Roman Janál. The new recording also features the National Theatre Chorus, with the choirmasters Martin Buchta and Pavel Vaněk.

Leoš Janáček, who created the libretto along with František Serafínský Procházka, Viktor Dyk and František Gellner, dedicated the opera to T. G. Masaryk, first President of the Czechoslovak Republic. The title character is one Mr. Brouček, a narrow-minded oaf, coward and hypocrite. “Brouček is an epitome of narrowmindedness,” the composer himself said.

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