Master of Fine Arts Leo Marian Vodička

* 1950

  • "Well, and because there was an angry farmer standing there, they started backing into the car and he managed to keep the farm for the whole of that Bolshevik time, they couldn't take revenge on him. Of course my father wrote them an appeal too, to the President's office, so somehow they let him have it. But every farmer had fields around his farmhouse to keep it as close as possible. Of course. That's the way they all had it. So they just took it from him, with an explanation, 'We'll give you a refund, you know? That's not... not like that, comrade. This is what we... here we need these fields for the collectivization, to have it nice like this, so that the combines can go there.' So he got some hectares near Žďár, he drove eight kilometres to that field. The other one he got at the neighbouring village. It wasn't far, four or five kilometres, but it was a hell of a drive. And the moment they took the stones out and cleaned the fields, they took it away from him and gave him another one. So he moved around the fields like that several times. Several times

  • "My worst experience was from Sklené when they came to nationalize the "farm", in quotes. I don't want to call it a farm because these people, they didn't have any labourers. They had children there, of course, and they all worked really hard there. My mother used to go there every spare moment and she used to take us with her when we had school holidays. She went there to help out. She worked really hard. She went to help them because they needed it. And I remember – it was in 55' or maybe in '56. I am not sure, but it was the time when collectivisation was at its worst. When they arrived there... I can still see that black Skoda car - it was called Sedan. The men got out of it and they walked down the stone pavement to the house and they said, 'Kunc, come out!' There was a big fuss! The women were crying about what was going on, and my uncle, he was a Ram like me. He was hot-tempered. He grabbed a pitchfork and stood in the doorway. We were just kids, but I was the oldest. The others, they were - I don't know, three years old, two years old, I was about five or six years old at the time. And he was standing in the doorway and they insisted on coming in, they had a decree so they were confiscating. They insisted that the farm was being nationalized and that was it. And he said, 'No, you're not getting anything! I didn't steal anything from anybody. My grandfather worked here, my father worked here, I work here, my children work here, my family works here! Come on in! I'm gonna stick this pitchfork in the first person who comes in here, then I'm gonna kill the whole family and hang myself on this beam. Come on! Come and get it, come and get it!'"

  • "We were standing there waiting to perform and the chairman of the party came out to welcome us. He had it written on a piece of paper. The hall was packed because they used to say, 'whoever doesn't come is the enemy'. And he started speaking, he welcomed us, and he read our names, because he felt it was important to tell everyone who we were. And on the paper there was written we were from JAMU Brno. He was looking at it and he stopped. We didn't understand it. We just wanted to start singing to get it over with. And then he took a moment to figure out the acronym and he said, 'These are all members of the Jánošík Academy.' And he didn't get the MU part, so he ended there and just repeated it again, 'Jánošík Academy.' Now imagine, of course we were having fun with this situation anyway, but we started laughing out loud, including the professor. And we got in real trouble for this. They insisted that we had disrespected their meeting, where we should have, on the contrary, underlined the seriousness of the election. They said we should not be allowed to study further. That's when Rector Kudláček smoothed things over. I know that it was discussed at the Municipal Party Committee and he went there and said that saying Jánošík instead of Janáček is a laughing matter, especially for young people who are laughing at everything. He said that it was certainly no disrespect."

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    Praha, 03.03.2022

    duration: 03:03:05
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Dalibor is not a role, it is me

Leo Marian Vodička, 1985
Leo Marian Vodička, 1985
photo: archiv pamětníka

Leo Marian Vodička was born on 8 April 1950 in Brno. His father’s family came from Wallachia, his mother’s family farmed for generations in Vysočina. During the period of collectivisation in the 1950s, his mother’s side of the family managed to keep the farm in their possession, but they had to hand over the fields to the cooperative, and they were forced to work on the infertile land allocated to them by local officials. His father’s brother, Vojtěch Vodička, who was a well-known tennis player, emigrated after February 1948. As a result, his father was fired as an accountant and became a gatekeeper at the Modeta Company. Leo Marian Vodička, a tenor, studied solo opera singing at the JAMU (Janáček Academy of Performing Arts) in Brno under Professor Josef Válka. After a short period on the opera stage in České Budějovice during his studies, he took up his first position in Olomouc, followed by soloist position in Brno, at the National Theatre in Prague and again in Brno. In 1976 he was invited by conductor Zdeněk Košler to sing Dalibor in the Smetana cycle at the reopened National Theatre. He sang in the role of Dalibor at home and on many foreign stages and it became his best-known role. Although he was largely devoted to operas by Czech and Russian composers, his domain was the figures of Italian verismo. After 1989, opportunities for concerts at home and abroad opened up. Leo Marian Vodička has toured all over the world, except for the American continent. Today he teaches solo opera singing.