Šárka (Janáček)

Šárka is an opera in three acts by Leoš Janáček to a Czech libretto by Julius Zeyer, based on Bohemian legends of Šárka in Dalimil's Chronicle. Written in 1887, the opera lay unproduced for many years and was first performed at the Divadlo na Hradbách (today's Mahen Theatre) in Brno on 11 November 1925 in honour of Janáček’s 71st birthday.

Opera by Leoš Janáček
Leos Janacek relief.jpg
Relief of the composer by Julius Pelikán
LibrettistJulius Zeyer
Based onBohemian legends of Šárka
11 November 1925 (1925-11-11)

Performance historyEdit

The premiere of the Ur-version (1887) of Šárka took place on 26 November 2010 at the Reduta Studio Theatre Brno as part of the Janáček Biennale, conducted from the piano by Ondrej Olos, with Lucie Kašparová in the title role. This first version (of which 30% of the music is retained in the score generally performed today) was sent to Dvořák for comment, but rested in the Janáček archive until 2010; the final version, with fewer motives and longer set-pieces, presages his mature works.[1]

The composer had never completed the work, but, after the success of his later operas, Šárka was revised and the orchestration completed by his pupil Osvald Chlubna who had been given the task in preparation for the opera's eventual publication.

In 2000, Jiří Zahrádka edited a new edition of the score. A recording was made later that year based on this edition, with Sir Charles Mackerras conducting the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and with Eva Urbanová in the title role; it was issued the following year (Supraphon SU 3485-2-631).

The premiere stage setting was designed by the architect and painter Vlastislav Hofman.[2]


Role Voice type Premiere Cast, 11 November 1925
(Conductor: František Neumann )
Častava contralto
Ctirad tenor Emil Olšovský
Hosta contralto
Libina soprano
Mlada soprano
Přemysl baritone
Radka mezzo-soprano
Šárka soprano Hana Pírková
Svatava soprano
Vitoraz bass
Vlasta mezzo-soprano



Before the opera begins, during Libuše's reign, women experienced a golden age and the female population had become the privileged members of society, but after her death this was not the case, causing a revolt that produced a female army, of whom Šárka was the fiercest warrior.

As the opera opens, the morale of the male troops is flagging, yet is restored by the young Ctirad, who guards Libuše's tomb. The women enter the sepulchre, but are scared by the appearance of Ctirad, and swear vengeance. Šárka plans to trap the young male warrior, and the maidens tie her to a tree, apparently open and helpless. Ctirad finds her, takes pity and unties her, falling in love with Šárka, but she also falls in love with him. As they sleep in each other's arms, Šárka remembers her resolve and uses her horn to call for the maidens to come and kill Ctirad and his warriors. During the funeral for Ctirad, Šárka, grief-stricken, throws herself onto his pyre and dies in the flames, the chorus sings a lament for the lovers.

Other musical depictions of ŠárkaEdit

Czech Bedřich Smetana composed the tone poem Šárka as the third part of his cycle "Má Vlast", which does not contain the final suicide narrated in the opera.



  1. ^ Tyrell J., "Report from Brno", Opera, March 2011, pp. 304–6.
  2. ^ Racek (1975), p.26


  • Holden, Amanda (Ed.), The New Penguin Opera Guide, New York: Penguin Putnam, 2001. ISBN 0-14-029312-4
  • Racek, Jan (1975). Leoš Janáček v mých vzpomínkách (in Czech). Prague: Vyšehrad.

External linksEdit