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Good Soldier Schweik

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Audio CD, May 21, 2002
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Product Details

  • Performer: Aaron Judisch, Christian Elser, Timothy Sharp, Chicago Opera Theater, Buffy Baggott, et al.
  • Conductor: Alexander Platt
  • Composer: Robert Kurka
  • Audio CD (May 21, 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Cedille Records
  • ASIN: B00006IIX8
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #442,221 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Oveture
2. Dámi a Páni! (Prologue)
3. Scene One: So They Killed Ferdinand!
4. Scene Two: We're Having a Very Fine Summer
5. Scene Three: Good Evening, Gentlemen, I Hope You're All Well
6. Scene Four: Good Evening, Ev'rybody, It's Been a Lovely Day
7. Scene Four: We're All in a Hell of a Mess
8. Scene Four: It's Great Fun
9. Scene Five: The Ego and the LD....
10. Scene Six: I Never Felt So Good Before...
See all 16 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. March Prelude
2. Scene One: O-O-Oh!
3. Scene One: Just Look at Me...
4. Scene One: Achtung!
5. Scene One: Aha, Rheumatism! ...
6. Scene One: Baroness Von Botzenheim...
7. Scene Two: I Always Thought the Army...
8. Scene Two: Okay, Let's Pray
9. Scene Two: Why Bless My Soul...
10. Scene Three: Well, Schweik, How'd Things Go Today?
See all 38 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Jason Collins (Schweik) - Marc Embree (Lt Lukash) - Kelli Harrington (Mrs Muller) - Buffy Baggott (Baroness von Botzenheim)... - Chicago Opera Theater - Alexander Platt, direction

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By R. Rockwell on November 10, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I must thank the people of Opera Nights site or I never would have heard about this masterpiece of an opera. Robert Kurka is a contemporary Czech-American composer who co-wrote the libretto with Lewis Allen which based on the famous comic novel by Jaroslav Hasek. The opera is set at the beginning of WW I is Prague. Schweik who is half witted conforms to any situation he is placed is performed by Jason Collins n a very moving performance Kurka is a master of choral writing and the ensemble does a grreat job. Most of the sceness are farcical, there has to be a balance for all of that to pay off. There are two scenes that brought tears to my eyes both sung by Schweik when he sings about the human cost of the war machine and at the en when he sings : " I'll take quiet road and talks about smelling the roses. The orchestral interludes are wonderful especiaaly the furiant Highly recommended to anyone interested in opera.
Please excuse any typos I have a, neurologic disease.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas A. Deutsch on July 24, 2011
Format: Audio CD
This 1st recording of Robert Kurka's "The Good Soldier Schweik" (premiered in 1958 by New York City Opera) should win new fans for the piece, both for the attractions of its wonderfully quirky score & for the strong performance it receives here. An opera with a big "underground" reputation, it surely deserved to be committed to disc just as much as the other works that City Opera recorded back in the late 1950s & early 60s, e.g. Douglas Moore's "The Ballad of Baby Doe," Marc Blitzstein's "Regina" & Robert Ward's "The Crucible." Instead we had to make do with a "pirate" tape in dim sound.
Now we have this bright, sharp version, with outstanding instrumental work under Alexander Platt's energetic leadership & a strong ensemble cast made up largely of young singers, some just out of professional apprentice programs, along with a helpful sprinkling of more seasoned performers -- baritone Marc Embree outstanding in 3 roles. As Schweik, tenor Jason Collins negotiates Kurka's sometimes awkward tessitura (very high/very low) with great skill, & holds center stage gracefully. Only reservation: too few female voices for the 2 mixed chorus numbers in Act II.
Despite a long list of its musical influences - Milhaud, Weill, Stravinsky, Czech folk music, Gershwin, Copland, Bernstein, etc. - "Schweik" impresses as one-of-a-kind: the orchestral writing wonderful (wind band, no strings), the vocal less consistently assured - but Kurka might have made adjustments had he lived long enough to hear the piece on stage. Lewis Allan's libretto works fairly well, though compared to the novel it's a bit too genteel, and the level of verbal wit & skill is variable, no match for Blitzstein or John Latouche at their best. In the end, however, an opera stands or falls on the merits of its music, & "Schweik" definitely stands.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Robert Kurka, a Czech-American who lived in a large Czech-speaking community in Chicago for much of his short life, shows that he understands Jaroslav Hasek's famous character Svejk/Schweik perfectly in this operatic adaptation. Hasek's novel, though long, is unfinished, but Kurka's ending makes a lot more sense (and is more aesthetically satisfying) than the tacked-on ending provided by Hasek's friends after his death.

Which brings me to the main strength of this set: the dramatic action is wholly convincing, and the musical methods used to convey that action are fascinating. Jazz beats rub shoulders with polkas; furiants break bread with six-person ensembles; the haunting, ballad-like "I always thought the army..." perfectly complements Schweik's early (hilarious) speculations about medieval torture. The libretto is largely true to Hasek's text (though it's in English), which means it's funny and acerbic all at once.

The cast is uniformly terrific, but kudos should go to Collins's Schweik and Embree's Lt. Lukash, as well as to Alexander Platt in the pit--he navigates Kurka's mixed musical language with easy grace.

Highly recommended.
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