8 Bringing Janacek’s Operas and Other Works to the World, beginning with Káťa Kabanová in 1951
The opening of the ballet Pineapple Poll in its first recording made in June 1951, three months after the ballet’s premiere and conducted by the music’s arranger Charles Mackerras. And already the colour, rhythm and fine detail that were to be hallmarks of his conducting throughout his long career were there. Just two months earlier – and less than a month after Pineapple Poll’s first night, the same conductor had made history in the same theatre, Sadler’s Wells. This time, it was an opera, and a completely unfamiliar kind of experience for the singers, the orchestra and the audience. Janacek’s Katya Kabanova was receiving its first performance in England and one of its then extremely rare performances outside Czechoslovakia. After returning from Prague in 1947 Mackerras had strongly argued its case to the Sadlers Wells management and his efforts were rewarded. A production was planned to open in April 1951 and he was to coach the singers and assist the House conductor Michael Mudie, who was to be in charge of the run of performances. In the event, Mudie fell ill – the start of a tragic decline in his health.
INTERVIEW 1-9: CHARLES MACKERRAS
MUSIC 8: KATYA