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Stanislava Součková’s singing was natural, mellifluous, and genuine. She also lived her life with a complete genuineness. Her laughter was laughter, nothing more. Likewise, her tears were tears; her anger, anger; her silence, silence. She unconditionally accepted both the good and the bad aspects of her life’s path, dedicating to it her love, her work, her talent – all that she could and that she knew. Her purity of heart was unforgettable to those who loved her and a disquieting shock to all others. The genuineness, naturalness, transparency, and simplicity of Stanislava Součková’s life was reflected in the genius of her art.


Should we search for the ultimate sources of Součková’s life and art, we would find two, both vital and interwoven. The first is the traditional family from which Součková came, the second is the Hussite tradition. The town of Velim is where these sources come together. That is where she was born on November 27th, 1923. She inherited her singing talent from her father, her irresistible élan vital from her mother.


Součková received her education in musical fundamentals from professor Olga Mančalová in Kolín, but the decisive factor for her was the training provided by the musical pedagogue Josef Masopust in Chrudim. She dealt with Masopust’s guidance in her unique and characteristic way. She understood that her duty was to continue refining her talents, but she nevertheless reached for the forbidden fruit against which her worldly-wise professor had warned her. In the 1940-41 school year, following her graduation from the home economics skills school in Chrudim, Součková became a student in the Prague Conservatory.


With Ferdinand Pujman’s guidance, Stanislava refined her natural acting talent while her unique soprano matured in Jaromíra Tomášková’s voice Master Class. Voice training involved primarily Czech folk songs, but to Součková, this was perfectly natural. The folk song was an indelible part of her childhood spent in the Velim church choir and in the Sokol communal gymnastics organization. The folk song was her companion all her life, far beyond the boundaries of her stage career. Yet the Czech folk song repertoire was a worthwhile complement to her operetta and opera career because she was convinced that only the unpretentious folk song rids the singer of false stage emotion, elevates the singer’s tone and demands profound, pure singing expression.


For similar reasons, Součková later enjoyed working on the radio. Without the distraction of stage props, klieglights, or costumery, she shared the message of music solely through the power of her singing. Not every singer can stand such a test, but Součková was practically created for it. This is why the radio was so generous to her, and why at least part of her repertoire will not be lost with the passage of time.


In 1943, Součková, while a conservatory student, sang for the first time on the stage of the Prague National Theater, in the role of Janíček, in Grandfather’s Legacy by Vítězslav Novák. In the oppressive wartime atmosphere of that year, her father took his own life, leaving behind a farm, a forty-one year-old widow, and four children with no means of support. Less than ten years later, in the spring of 1950, that same farm was nationalized by the socialist state, family members were chased off the property and driven into a farm hand‘s shack, and the blooming orchard was torn up by the roots.


At that time, Stanislava Součková had already completed her conservatory studies and was preparing for her final examinations at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. She was already married to the Hussite parish priest Jaroslav Ryšavý, and was mother to her daughter Hana. She also had first-hand experience as the wife of a political prisoner since, in 1949, during the liquidation processes directed against Hussite and other religious intellectuals, Jaroslav had been sentenced to six years in prison. He was amnestied after three years.


In May 1952, Součková, now a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts, sang Mařenka, the lead role in Smetana’s Bartered Bride, in the Karlín State Theater. At that time, she had no idea that she would spend the next nine years of her artistic career on that stage.


In those days, the Karlín Theater was a refined stage with high standards, but also with a wide variety of remarkable personalities, most of whom were shunted there by the regime. These included Jiří Frejka, who had invited Součková to audition at the Karlín Theater; Oldřich Nový, with who with whom she sang the famous Mam’zelle Nitouche, alternating in that role with Věra Macků. Other artists she performed with included Alfréd Radok, Vlasta Burian, Ljuba Hermanová, Jaroslava Adamová, Karel Effa, Ota Motyčka, Nelly Gaierová, her frequent partner Karel Fiala, and many others. Součková was precisely what that operetta required – she was attractive, playful, flirtatious, and carefree – but first and foremost, she sang beautifully. While at Karlín, she gave birth to her second child, and she dreamed of opera.


With no outside help. Součková mastered the roles of Violetta from La Traviata and Gilda from Rigoletto. In 1958, she received tremendous acclaim for her stunning success in those roles at the Bratislava National Theater. Still, for ideological reasons, the National Theater in Prague barely opened its door for her, and that only as a visiting artist.


In 1961, Součková accepted an offer to join the South Bohemian Opera Theater in České Budějovice. She was not in the habit of pondering the consequences of her spontaneous decisions. She simply turned her family members into South Bohemians, then blazed her own path to the entire soprano repertoire of Czech and worldwide opera repertoire. She became a star of the South Bohemian music world: a star who loved to cook and was an expert at it, who knitted sweaters and socks, who knew what to do in every practical situation, and who gave birth to her third child at the age of forty-three. Yet none of these worldly things in any way detracted from her luminous presence.


Stanislava Součková retired from her operatic career at the end of the 1973/74 season, while at the pinnacle of her powers. Characteristically, she commented: "Taking one’s leave at the right moment is also art. I want to please, not to terrify!" She then became an expert voice instructor at the School of Education of the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice. She started as a lecturer but later became a full professor – the very first professor of voice training in the Czechoslovak Republic. She gladly shared all her expertise with students. And the concert given for the occasion of her sixtieth birthday made it clear that she was still a superb singer. At that time, she had thirteen years of her life left: a life that remained full and beautiful until its very last moments when she – much like Violetta, whom she had portrayed so many times – finally succumbed to a malign illness. Stanislava Součková-Ryšavá passed away on July 23rd, 1997.


Dagmar Blüml




Stanislava Součková (*27 November 1923, Velim, Kolín District - +23 July 1997, České Budějovice) was a Czech operatic soprano and the sister of baritone Jaroslav Souček. Between 1951 and 1961 she was a member of the principal artists at the Hudební divadlo Karlín where she appeared in leading roles in operettas. In 1961 she joined the Jihočeské divadlo in České Budějovice where she remained until her retirement in 1974. She also was a frequent guest artist at the National Theatre in Prague. After her retirement, she embarked on a second career as a voice teacher on the faculty of the University of South Bohemia in the Czech Budejovice.

Opera roles

  • Ludwig van Beethoven – Fidelio (Leonora)
  • Georges Bizet – Carmen (Micaela)
  • Gaetano Donizetti – Don Pasquale (Norina)
  • Antonín Dvořák – Rusalka (Rusalka), The Jacobin (Julie)
  • George Gershwin – Porgy and Bess (Serena)
  • Leoš Janáček – Káťa Kabanová (Káťa)
  • Bohuslav Martinů – Miracle of Our Lady (Mariken)
  • W. A. Mozart – The Magic Flute (The Queen of the Night), Don Giovanni (Zerlina), Cosi fan tutte (Fiordiligi), Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Konstanza)
  • Giacomo Puccini – Madama Butterfly (Cio-Cio-san)
  • Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov – The Golden Cockerel (Shemakhan Tsaritsa)
  • Gioacchino Rossini – The Barber of Seville (Rosina)
  • Bedřich Smetana – The Kiss (Barče), The Bartered Bride (Mařenka), Libuše (Libuše), The Two Widows (Karolina)
  • Eugen Suchoň – Krútňava (Katrena)
  • Giuseppe Verdi – La traviata (Violeta), Rigoletto (Gilda), Il trovatore (Leonora), Don Carlos (Elizabetta), Un ballo in maschera (Amelia)