With her electrifying stage presence and powerful voice, soprano Eva Urbanová is the First Lady of the Czech opera scene. For nearly fifteen years she has been the supreme star at the National Theater in Prague, in addition to her numerous performances abroad.
A recipient of several prestigious awards in her home country and abroad, Ms. Urbanová’s most important recognitions include the Czech Thalie award for “Jenůfa” (‘Kostelnička’) and a Grammy award for her disc “Celeste Aida: Famous Opera Arias”. In 2003 in Toronto (with the Canadian Opera Company) she has received the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance in an Opera, again for her portrayal of ‘Kostelnička’. Her Suphraphon recording of Fibich’s “Šárka,” conducetd by Charles Mackerras, was nominated for a Grammy award in 2001. In 2003 Ms. Urbanová has been appointed Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters of the Republic of France.
At her “home”, the National Theater in Prague, Ms. Urbanová has performed such varied roles as ‘Elizabetta’ (“Don Carlo”), ‘Leonora’ (“La Forza del Destino”), ‘Julie’ in Dvořák’s “Jakobín”, ‘Milada’ in Smetana’s “Dalibor”, ‘Mother of Milla’ in Janáček’s “Osud”, and a role for which she is especially renowned, ‘Kostelnička’ in Janáček’s “Jenůfa”. Other notable roles for this superb soprano include ‘Turandot’ (London with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati, Canadian Opera Company, Prague for 10th anniversary of The State Opera in Prague, plus the world premiere of Luciano Berio’s new ending in Amsterdam and at the 18th Festival de Música de Canarias, both conducted by Chailly), the ‘Foreign Princess’ in “Rusalka” (Opernhaus Zurich, Opéra National de Paris, The Royal Opera Covent Garden), ‘Tosca’ (San Francisco Opera), ‘La Gioconda’ (Valencia, La Scala, L’Opéra de Montréal, and Berlin’s Deutsche Oper), ‘Libuše’ (Edinburgh Festival and Prague National Theater), ‘Milada’ in Smetana’s “Dalibor” (Prague, Vienna, Cagliari), and ‘Santuzza’ (Den Norske Opera). Ms. Urbanová also appeared at the renowned Savonlinna Opera Festival as the ‘Foreign Princess’ in “Rusalka” and ‘Donna Anna’ in “Don Giovanni”. She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in 1998 as ‘Ortrud’ in “Lohengrin”, returning in subsequent seasons as ‘Santuzza’ in “Cavalleria Rusticana”, ‘Tosca’, the ‘Foreign Princess’, and ‘Turandot’ (for the 2003 Met in the Parks concert series).
Recognized for her interpretive and communicative presence, Ms. Urbanová performs numerous other works in addition to her opera appearances. She has sung gala concerts in Canada (Toronto), Spain (Valencia and Sevilla), as well as at the popular Prague Spring festival. She performed the Verdi “Requiem” on a tour in Switzerland, the Mozart “Requiem” in Munich, and Britten’s “War Requiem” at the Royal Albert Hall in London and at the Salzburger Festspiele. An avid promoter of Czech music, she performed Martinů’s “Gilgamesh” in London and Janáček “Glagolitic Mass” in London, Toronto, Vienna and Athens. Her Dvořák works include the “Requiem” (Dresden), “Te Deum” (Madrid), “Stabat Mater” (Frankfurt and La Coruna, Spain), and “Svatá Ludmila” (Brussels and at the Edinburgh Festival).
In the past, she studied privately with Ludmila Kotnauerová and currently she works, also privately, with the renowned soprano Renata Scotto. Conductors with whom Ms. Urbanová frequently collaborates include Jiří Bělohlávek, Sir Charles Mackerras, Kent Nagano, Ondrej Lenárd, Sir Andrew Davis, James Conlon, James Levine, Nello Santi, Leonard Slatkin, Roberto Abbado, and Riccardo Chailly.
Ms. Urbanová’s numerous recordings include both solo recital discs as well as full length operas and other works. Among the most significant are Smetana’s “Libuše” and “Dalibor”, Fibich’s “Šárka”, Dvořák’s “Rusalka”, Mahler’s “Das klagende Lied”, and Janáček’s “Glagolitic Mass”. The world premiere recording of Janáček’s “Šárka” with the Prague Philharmonic Choir and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Sir Charles Mackerras was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Ms. Urbanová opened the current 2004/2005 season singing the title role of ‘Adriana Lecouvreur’ in the new production at the National Theater in Prague and subsequently she returned to the Metropolitan Opera in New York for ‘Santuzza’ in “Cavalleria Rusticana”. She will sing her first ‘Rusalka’ at the State Opera in Prague in May and ‘Elisabeth’ in “Tannhäuser” at Smetana’s Litomyšl Festival in June of 2005.
Ms. Urbanová singing the title role of “Turandot” in the new production at the National Theater in Bratislava in March of 2006 and she was singing the role of “Amelia” in “Masked Ball” in Summer Festival Cincinnati Opera in July 2006. Ms. Urbanova performed “Turandot” in a very interesting production of the opera in the Volksoper Vienna. She took the soprano part in “Gurrelieder” by Arnold Schönberg, which was part of the programme of the Prague Spring Festival.
Ms. Urbanova is celebrating 20 years of artistic activity in 2007. Besides her own concert activities she celebrated this anniversary in the premiere of Puccini’s opera La Fanciulla del West in the National Theater in Prague in April 2007 and in her favourite role of “Kostelnicka” in the Janáček’s opera “Jenufa” in Los Angeles Opera in September and October 2007.