Archive for Czech Diction

Episode 55

Posted in Podcasts, Czech Diction by thedictionpolice on February 23rd, 2012

Episode 55 is the end of my interview on Czech diction with Lucie Ceralová, this time with the Janáček's "Letí, straka letí". We concentrate on the letter C [ts] (which maintains it's own sound when followed by K), consonants that need a j-glide when followed by ě and the voicing and devoicing of consonants, as well as consonant pairs.

"Letí, straka letí" is No. 19 in Leoš Janáček's song cycle Zápisník zmizelého (The Diary of One Who Vanished). The texts were all published anonymously in the Brno newspaper 1916 and the poet remained unknown until 1998.

I also mentioned a blog posting with links to an article about how posture affects the human endocrine system and the Alexander Technique (body learning).

As always, please feel free to contact me here, at the Facebook page, on Twitter @dictionpolice or directly at with any comments, questions or suggestions!


Episode 54

Posted in Podcasts, Czech Diction by thedictionpolice on February 15th, 2012

Since I'm in rehearsals for a Czech opera right now, it only seems fair that we discuss Czech diction this week! Mezzo-soprano Lucie Ceralova is here with the text "Oblak a mrákota jest vůkol něho", focusing on devoicing consonants, vocalic L and R, the palatalized N [ɲ], D [ ɟ] or [d] and T [c] or [t] and a few ways to practice our favorite Czech consonant ř.

"Oblak a mrákota jest vůkol něho" is the first song in Dvořak's Biblické Písně (Biblical Songs), taken from the Book of Psalms of the Kralice Bible, which is the Czech equivalent to the English King James Bible or the German Luther Bible. This text can also be found in Timothy Cheek's Singing in Czech, with a translation and the IPA.

The tongue twisters that we talked about at the end are:

  • Třista třicet tři stříbrných stříkaček stříkalo přes třista třicet tři stříbrných střech.
  • Strč prst skrz krk.

Have fun with them :-)

Please feel free to contact me with questions, comments or suggestions here, at the Facebook page, on Twitter @dictionpolice or directly at


Episode 28

Posted in Podcasts, Czech Diction by thedictionpolice on February 6th, 2011

Our first episode on Czech diction! This week conductor Tomáš Netopil is our guest, discussing two texts from Rusalka, the Song to the Moon (Měčku na nebi hlubokém) and the Prince's first act aria (Vidino divná). Since many people are less familiar with the Czech language, we tried to cover a lot of the basics, while concentrating on things foreigners have trouble with like the palatal D [ɟ]and T[c], the voiced H [ɦ] and the accent markings on vowels and consonants, including our favorite Czech letter ř [Ř]!

You can find a libretto for the first act of Rusalka which also has an English translation here. The Song to the Moon is about halfway down and the Prince's aria is towards the end of the first act.

Timothy Cheek's Singing in Czech is an excellent resource to study Czech diction. It includes a CD with native speakers pronouncing the examples in the book, as well as an extensive list of Lieder and Opera in Czech and word-for-word translations and IPA for many of the most important songs and arias.

I also found a blog called Czech Mix: Opera Colorado celebrates Czech cultural arts, with some interesting entries about Czech music, Dvorak and a conversation with the Czech language coach for Opera Colorado's production of Rusalka about the challenges of singing in Czech.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me here, on the Facebook page or directly at


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