Peter Dvorský (born 25 September 1951 in Horná Ves, then Czechoslovakia, now Slovakia.) is a Slovak operatic tenor. Possessing a lyrical voice with a soft, elastic tone, and warm and melodious timbre, Dvorský's repertoire concentrates on roles from the Italian and Slavic repertories.
Dvorský has four brothers, three of whom are also successful opera singers: Jaroslav Dvorský, Miroslav Dvorský and Pavol Dvorský. His other brother, Vendelín Dvorský, is an economist.
Peter Dvorský studied under Ida Černecká at the Bratislava State Conservatory. There he also enjoyed his first successes at the Slovak National Theatre, making his professional opera debut there in 1972 as Lensky in Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin. He won the national singing contest named after Mikuláš Schneider-Trnavský at Trnava in 1973, and in 1974 he won the first prize at the international Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. In 1975, he won first place in the singing contest at the Geneva International Music Competition which led to a yearlong apprenticeship under Renata Carosia and Giuseppe Lugga at La Scala in Milan.
In the following years, he quickly achieved international fame. He debuted at the Vienna State Opera, where he was particularly successful and popular, in 1976, at the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1977, and one year later at La Scala, Milan. In these years he became one of the leading tenors worldwide. He received several distinctions, among others being a national artist and state prize-winner of the former Czechoslovakia. Since 2006, Dvorský has been the head of the opera house in Košice, then of the opera house of the Slovak National theater (SND) in Bratislava.
Suchoň was invited in 1940 to write an opera for the Slovak National Theatre. In 1941 he read Urban's novella Beyond the Upper Mill, a story of love and murder set in the Slovak countryside in the years after World War I, which immediately inspired him. Urban himself however refused to collaborate on the libretto, writing in 1958 that the dramatization risked losing some of the ambiguities he had deliberately created in the book (e.g. the paternity of the heroine's baby).
Suchoň's original conception was to write the opera using two different styles - a quasi-impressionist style to accompany the thoughts of the characters, and a more realistic, nationalist style to accompany external events. Traces of this dualism remain in the score, although Suchoň realized his original ideas were impractical.
Although the premiere was successful, the governing Slovak Communist
Party insisted that the original ending be changed to make it more
'optimistic'. Other serious changes were forced on the composer, involving
dismantling the very important 'framework' to the opera which posited
the story as the result of a wager between the Poet and his Double (spoken
roles), and, inevitably, the toning down of any references to Christianity.
At first Suchoň refused to make any alterations; the opera was withdrawn
from the repertoire. Pressure from his musical colleagues, who realized
the importance of the work, induced him to change his mind, and this 'revised
version' was performed in Czechoslovakia and abroad in the 1950s, the original
ending only being restored in 1963. Complete reconstruction of the original,
including the participation of the Poet and his Double, had to await the
composer's centenary in 2008, when Suchoň's work as originally conceived
was performed in Banska Bystrica.
© 1984 Bruce Duffie
This conversation was recorded in Chicago on October 14, 1984. Portions were broadcast on WNIB the following year, and again in 1996. This transcription was made in 2018, and posted on this website at that time. My thanks to British soprano Una Barry for her help in preparing this website presentation.
To see a full list (with links) of interviews which have been transcribed and posted on this website, click here.
Award - winning broadcaster Bruce Duffie was with WNIB, Classical 97 in Chicago from 1975 until its final moment as a classical station in February of 2001. His interviews have also appeared in various magazines and journals since 1980, and he now continues his broadcast series on WNUR-FM.You are invited to visit his website for more information about his work, including selected transcripts of other interviews, plus a full list of his guests. He would also like to call your attention to the photos and information about his grandfather, who was a pioneer in the automotive field more than a century ago. You may also send him E-Mail with comments, questions and suggestions.