Forgotten Opera Singers

Forgotten Opera Singers

Jun 29, 2014

Otakar Mařák (Tenor) (Esztergom 1872 – Prague 1939)


                                                                Don Jose

He studied at the Prague Conservatory with Parsova-Zikesova. He made his debut in the title role of Charles Gounod’s opera ‘’Faust’’ on 1 February 1899 in Brno, Czech Republic. In the same year he was engaged by the National Theatre in Prague. From 1901, he performed abroad. He was a regular member of the National Theatre between 1899–1901 and again in 1903–1907. Thereafter he sang on this first Czech stage as a permanent guest. In 1907 he left for Paris, where he continued to school his voice. In 1903, Marak was engaged by the Hofper in Viennna. Due the initiative of Gustav Maler, in 1906, he became soloist at the Berlin Komische Opera. In 1908, Ottokar Marak made a successful debut at Covent Garden. There, he sang José, Turiddu, and Canio. In 1911, he shared the role of Gennaro in the new opera by Wolf-Ferrari "The Secret the Madonna" and also sang in the première of Ferruccio Busoni's ‘’Die Brautwahl’’ (1912, Hamburg). In 1913 he was the first London Bacchus (‘’Ariadne auf Naxos’’), and the following year he sang in Chicago as Parsifal in the local première of Richard Wagner's opera. He made guest appearances in Paris, Munich, Hamburg and Brussels. Following World War I, he became an American citizen and went on to teach in the country between 1934–1937. A brain seizure in 1937 forced his to return to Prague where he died two years later. He especially excelled in Smetana parts such as Jeník in ‘’The Bartered Bride’’, ‘’Dalibor’’, Ladislav Podhajský in The ‘’Two Widows’’, Lucas in ‘’The Kiss’’ as well as in traditional world repertory which saw Marak play Don Ottavio in ‘’Don Giovanni’’, Massenet’s ‘’Werther’’, Cavaradossi in ‘’Tosca’’ and Alfred Germont in ‘’La Traviata’’. He often took on the role of Don José in Bizet’s ‘’Carmen’’. He is one of the first singers of the time to sing in a full recording of ‘’Pagliacci’’ for Odeon. Marak like his fellow country person, Emmy Destinn, was one of the few Czech singers of the Golden Age to have international careers. Sadly, Marak spent much of his later years in poverty, counting on his American friends to send him cigarettes.

Chronology of some appearances

1899 Brno Opera House
1899 Prague National Theatre
1903 Vienna Hofper
1906 Berlin Komische Opera
1908 London Covent Garden


Pagliacci (Leoncavallo): Un  tal gioco 72103 6978b

Pagliacci (Leoncavallo): Vesti la giubba  X29057 xV 1537
Werther (Massenet): Ah! Non mi ridestar 48317 xB 4591
Traviata (Verdi): De miei bollenti spiriti X29056 xV 1542
Ugonotti (Meyerbeer): Qui sotto il ciel  38387
Ugonotti (Meyerbeer): Bianca al par 99268
Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky): Lontan, lontan da me  X29060 xV 1539

Prodana Nevesta (Smetana): Verne milovani with Emmy Destinn  074005 286ac
Tosca (Puccini): Amaro sol per te with Eva Plaschke-von der Osten  044194 2297c
Tosca (Puccini): Qual occhio al mondo with Eva Plaschke-von der Osten 044193 2297 c
Carmen (Bizet): Seguidilla with Ottilie Metzger  044157 454m
Ma dívenka jak ruze jest, pisen  (Zd. Fibich) 2-72059 12729u
Cavalleria Rusticana (Mascagni): O Lola 2-72058 12726u

Dobru Noc (Dvorak)  B 427 106646
Kdyz jsem ja jel 53539
O Nasi Lasce (Dvorak) B 427 106647

Carmen (Bizet): Il fior  B. 13572-II 39384
Dalibor (Smetana): Kdyz zdenek  muj B. 13572-I 39383

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