- Alena Němcová
(b Vítějeves, nr Polička, Bohemia, March 11, 1902; d Prague, Dec 4, 1980). Czech baritone . As a choirboy he impressed Janáček; subsequently he studied the piano and violin with Martinů. After singing lessons in Prague, he studied in Rome (with Riccardo Stracciari), Milan and Vienna. He made his début in Bratislava as Iago (1925), and a year later was engaged by the Brno Opera with which he sang Baron Prus in the première of Janáček’s The Makropulos Affair and the title role in Krenek’s Jonny spielt auf. From 1929 to 1972 he worked at the National Theatre in Prague, singing more than 160 roles; he also toured widely abroad. Otava’s voice had a very wide range and a marked intensity, and while light, was extremely varied in colour, with an even tone, free of vibrato; his diction was absolutely clear. With his striking stage presence, he gave characteristic portrayals of Figaro, Germont, Yevgeny Onegin and Telramund, and masterly projections of such villains and conspirators as Pizarro, Scarpia and Iago. He was no less versatile and successful in the Czech repertory, and learnt a large number of contemporary roles. He was also a successful recitalist, favouring the contemporary Czech repertory. He taught at the Prague Conservatory (...