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Jane Marsh about Rafael Kubelík

Many thanks to the renowned singer Jane Marsh for these precious memories of Rafael Kubelík

It’s “hell to be popular”

I had been asked to sing the original version (in Russian) of Stravinsky’s Les Noces, with Mo. Rafael Kubelík and the Bayerische Rundfunk in Munich, Germany. Mo. Kubelík was a superb conductor and a wonderful man, whom I honored and liked very much.

Three days before I was to be in Munich to start rehearsals for Stravinsky’s Les Noces, I received an S.O.S. offer to take over the title role in the Premiere of Weber’s little known opera Euryanthe in Berlin, Germany, at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. This was a very nice offer, even if a bit life threatening time wise. They wanted me at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, because they all knew that I had previously sung the role in Dresden and at the Bruckner Festival in Linz, so they knew that this was something with which I could help them, if I were free to sing.

The Premiere of Euryanthe was in two days! I would be able to take over the Premiere of Euryanthe in Berlin and still arrive in Munich in time to start rehearsals for Les Noces with Mo. Kubelík. My only fear was that there might be problems if I were to be offered further performances of Euryanthe at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, creating conflict with the rehearsals and radio broadcast of Les Noces in Munich, at the Bayerische Rundfunk, and that contract of course had precedent. This concerned me, but I couldn’t think about it. I had to focus on the short time at hand, and I knew that everyone in Berlin and Munich was informed of the dates and elements involved.

Off I went to take over the Premiere of the production of Euryanthe, which was very well received and, indeed, I was immediately offered further performances of Euryanthe at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the second performance of which conflicted strongly with rehearsals and the radio broadcast of Les Noces in Munich with Mo. Kubelík. Everyone at the Deutsche Oper Berlin tried to coax Mo. Kubelík to release me from my contract with him and the radio, but he negated that emphatically: “Seldom has there been a singer I have valued as much as Frau Marsh, and for whom I wouldn’t try to be of help, but I will not release her from Les Noces and her contract with me and the radio. Number one, why should I have to…Number two, I will not find a singer I value, in this short time, who knows Les Noces in Russian. Jane Marsh stays with me and Bayerische Rundfunk in Munich! End of discussion!!

The performances of Euryanthe couldn’t take place at the Deutsche Opera Berlin, because another singer couldn’t be found who knew the role of Euryanthe. Do I have to say that sometimes, “it’s Hell to be popular!”

Conductor Rafael Kubelík's great musical and orchestral color visualization

I remember I had been in Holland working on the role of Vitellia in Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito and I received an emergency request to take over a performance in Rome of Elisabeth in Wagner's Tannhäuser. Though there was such demanding focus and such scarcity of time, as always in these emergencies-I was 'taking over the performance', as they say-I recall a memorable feeling of being taken care of by Maestro Kubelík, while 'taking over' this performance, and also my relishing the most ravishing colors this conductor was getting from the orchestra. Kubelík's orchestral color sense was so apparent to me at that time and inspired me so much in all of my work with him. It was in every way exemplary of his great conductor-genius.

It was not until a time later that Maestro Kubelík and the Bayerishe Rundfunk in Munich informed me that they were planning to present Carl Orff's De Temporum fine Comoedia, which I had performed with Herbert von Karajan at the Salzburg Festival, and I was invited to perform the Orff work again with Kubelík in Munich.

The cast of De Temporum fine Comoedia is enormous and the work itself consists of endless detail, so, though the cast and chorus had scheduled rehearsal with the orchestra, there was not a huge amount of time for long winded specifics, what with the strict time table at hand.

It was for this very reason that the entire cast, chorus, and orchestra were so enthusiastically impressed with Kubelík's handling of a portion of the brass section at one of our early rehearsals, in the shortest amount of time.

The trombones were playing a section of the opera too 'silver' in color, according to Kubelík, and he wanted a 'color of gold' from them. The entire rehearsal came to a standstill, and we all waited, while Kubelík asked the trombones to visualize a 'color of gold' for the particular section they were playing. He stopped and started a few times, while he persisted, and then suddenly, as if magic dust had been sprinkled-and completely audible to all of us present-the trombones played the section with the warmest and most vibrant 'color of gold'. It was a completely different color than before and the color that Kubelík wanted. This brought easily five minutes of cheers from the entire cast, which was likely longer than it had taken Kubelík to obtain the color he wanted. A fabulous moment and it continues to be a story I tell, when recalling special experiences.

Seldom have I worked with such a warm, versatile and compassionate conductor, who showed such great talent as a leader without threatening the world around him. A great conductor and a great man. Colorful excitement, and passionate musical description were celebratory of all of my performing experiences with Maestro Kubelík. A wonderful world was his and I am humbly honored and childishly delighted to have been a part of it!

I wish Kubelík were present in our world today. He would inspire us all with his intuitive-musical invention. The world would be a better place and he is greatly missed!

© 2007 - Jane Marsh


 Biographie de Rafael Kubelík - Discographie de Rafael Kubelík - Liste des concerts de Rafael Kubelík - Les meilleurs enregistrements de Rafael Kubelík
 Biography of Rafael Kubelík - Discography of Rafael Kubelík - Concerts list by Rafael Kubelík - Best of Rafael Kubelík