Among the goodies I won from Chicago Opera Theatre in a recent Twitter! contest was a 2001 recording of Robert Kurka’s 1956 opera The Good Soldier Schweik based on the novel by Jaroslav Hašek. It’s a very interesting piece. It’s on an odd sort of scale with 26 solo parts, here managed by a team of 12 singers, plus chorus. It uses a fifteen piece woodwind and brass band with no strings at all. I’m guessing it could easily be presented in quite a wide range of theatres.
It’s well worth a listen, or better still a look I suppose. Apparently it had over 100 productions worldwide between the New York premiere in 1958 and the COT production in 2001 though Operabase rather suggests it has fallen out of fashion. It’s a shame because the libretto is good and modern comic operas are all too rare. The score is worthwhile too. As one might expect from the scoring and the period it shows influences from both jazz and Kurt Weill. I think anybody who enjoys Mahagonny or The Seven Deadly Sins would enjoy this. The CDs are on the Cedille label and feature a group of young American musicians, none of whom I’m familiar with, under the direction of Alexander Platt. I think they do the piece justice. It’s worth a look.