Naděžda Kniplová

Naděžda Kniplová (née Pokorná) (born 18 April 1932) is a Czech operatic soprano who had an active international career from the 1950s through the 1980s. Kniplová possessed a large voice with a sonorous, metallic, dark timbre that was particularly well suited to the dramatic soprano repertoire. While she was most admired in Czech operas and as Wagnerian heroines, she sang a wide repertoire that also encompassed Italian, Russian, and Hungarian language roles. A fine actress, her performances were praised for their intensity and pathos. However, some critics commented on a certain lack of steadiness or purity in her singing. Her voice is preserved on a number of recordings made on the Supraphon and Decca labels.[1]


Born in Ostrava to a musical family, Kniplová had her first vocal training from her father before studying under Jarmila Vavrdová at the Prague Conservatory from 1947–1953. She pursued further studies at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague from 1954–1958 where her principal teachers were Zdeněk Otava and K. Ungrová. She made her professional opera debut at the opera house in Ústí nad Labem from 1957–1959. In 1958 she won the Geneva International Singing Competition.[1]

Kniplová joined the roster of principal singers at the Mahen Theatre in Brno in 1959, remaining with the company through 1964. During her tenure there the opera company moved to a new building, the Janáček Theatre in 1961. Among the roles she created in Brno were Emilia Marty in Leoš Janáček's The Makropulos Affair, Judith in Béla Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle, Katerina in Bohuslav Martinů’s The Greek Passion, Kostelnička Buryjovka in Janáček's Jenůfa, Renata in Sergei Prokofiev's The Fiery Angel, and the title heroines in Bedřich Smetana's Libuše and Dmitri Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District. She was also active as a guest artist at the Semperoper in Dresden, Germany during her years in Brno. She drew particular acclaim at that house for the title role in Giuseppe Verdi's Aida.[1]

In 1965 Kniplová became a principal soprano at the Prague National Theatre (PNT), making her debut at the theatre as Ortrud in Richard Wagner's Lohengrin. The PNT remained her principal home for more than the next two decades. In addition to the aforementioned roles above, her repertoire in Prague included Anežka in The Two Widows, Brünnhilde in The Ring Cycle, Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Isolde in Tristan und Isolde, Kundry in Parsifal, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Leonora in Fidelio, Milada in Dalibor, Senta in The Flying Dutchman, and the title roles in Káťa Kabanová, Šárka, Tosca, and Turandot.[1]

While committed to the PNT, Kniplová was also highly active as a guest artist at opera stages around the world. In 1965 she appeared at the Berlin State Opera and traveled with that house for performances in Tokyo. In 1966 gave lauded performances at the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the Hamburg State Opera, the latter of which she returned for several more performance throughout the late 1960s. She had a major success in 1967 as Brünnhilde in The Ring Cycle at the Salzburg Easter Festival under conductor Herbert von Karajan. In 1971 she appeared at the Salzburg Festival as the soprano soloist in the Glagolitic Mass. Other performance credits include appearances at the Liceu (Isolde), Teatro Regio di Torino (Brünnhilde in Götterdämmerung), the San Francisco Opera (Brünnhilde in Die Walküre), Vienna State Opera (Isolde, Kostelnička), Deutsche Oper am Rhein, the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the Grand Théâtre de Genève, and the Canadian Opera Company.[1]

Retired from the stage, Kniplová currently serves on the voice faculty at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Among her notable pupils is mezzo-soprano Andrea Kalivodová. In 1970 she was appointed a People's Artist of the USSR.[1]


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