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Cover to Chandos RecordingTHE BARTERED BRIDE

Opera in 3 acts by Bedrich Smetana. Text by Kazel Sabina.
Premiered Prague National Theatre 30 May, 1866; revised 1869 final version produced 1870. English version at Sadlers Well 1935.

The Bartered Bride is a national institution in the Czech Republic but has assumed the mantel of folk opera outside Smetana's homeland.

The Story:

It is spring in a Bohemian village and holiday time. The villagers gather to celebrate the festive occasion. Marenka and Jenik do not join in the gaiety as Marenka's parents have arranged a rich marriage for her although she loves the impecunious Jenik.

Marenka's parents are being persuaded by Kecal, a marriage broker, that their daughter should wed the son of Tobias Micha. Kruschina, Marenka's father knows Micha but thought there were two sons, not one as claimed by Kecal. In fact one son by Micha's first marriage has disappeared and is now presumed dead. Ludmilla, Marenka's mother is unconvinced and believes Marenka should choose for herself.

Marenka informs her parents and the marriage broker she has become engaged to Jenik and doesn't accept the marriage contract drawn up by her parents and the marriage broker.

It is against this background that the story of love, arranged and unarranged, is played with a great deal of bargaining on all sides, especially Kecal who is assured of a good commission should he succeed in his objective. He doesn't.

Relationships and assignations are put to the test against the carnival atmosphere in the village with the inevitable happy ending, although not quite as expected.

Characters:

Kruschina, a peasant - Baritone
Ludmilla, his wife, - Mezzo-soprano
Marenka, their daughter - Soprano
Micha, a landlord - Bass
Hata, his wife - Mezzo-soprano
Vasek, their son - Tenor
Jenik, Micha's son by a first marriage - Tenor
Kecal, a marriage broker - Bass
Ringmaster of a troupe of artists - Tenor
Esmerelda, a dancer - Soprano
An Indian - Bass