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B. Smetana: The Bartered Bride - Comic Opera in 3 Acts - Prague National Theatre Chorus and Orchestra - O. Ostrčil, conductor

B. Smetana: The Bartered Bride - Comic Opera in 3 Acts - Prague National Theatre Chorus and Orchestra - O. Ostrčil, conductor -Opera-Czech Historical Recordings
ID: RCD70041 (EAN: 4600383700410)  | 2 CD | ADD
Released in: 1997
Russian Compact Disc
Czech Historical Recordings
SMETANA, Bedřich
GLEICH, Jaroslav (tenor) | HORÁKOVÁ, Ota (soprano) | HRUŠKA, Karel (tenor) | KONSTANTIN, Jan (baritone) | KRÁSOVÁ, Marta (contralto) | MAREK, Václav (tenor) | NORDENOVÁ, Ada (soprano) | OTAVA, Zdeněk (baritone) | PIXOVÁ, Marie (contralto) | POLLERT, Emil (bass) | TOMŠ, Vladimír (tenor)
Prague National Theatre Chorus | Prague National Theatre Orchestra
Other info:

Comic Opera in 3 Acts to the Libretto by Karel Sabina
Czech historical recordings - 1933
Notes in English, French, German and Czech.

The story of the opera

A cheerful mood ata Czech country fair, with the folk dancing and singing, young couples meeting, weddings being arranged.

Act 1
Mařenka and Jeník want to marry. However, Mařenka’s father, Krušina, has other ideas. He wants Mařenka to marry a boy she has never met, Vašek, the son of Micha, who is a wealthy landowner. The marriage-broker Kecal is hired to broker the marriage between Mařenka and Vašek. Kecal is made aware of the relationship between Mařenka and Jeník, and becomes determined to break them up in order to facilitate the marriage of Mařenka with Vašek.

Act 2
Mařenka and Vašek meet each other by accident and, while Mařenka works out who Vašek is, on the other hand, Vašek is too much of a simpleton to realize who she is. Mařenka starts painting a picture of Vašek’s intended bride as a woman who would make his life a total misery if he should marry her. This turns Vašek off the idea of marrying his intended wife, and also makes him interested in this girl who obviously has his best interests at heart. Meanwhile, Kecal starts his campaign to pay off Jeník, so that Jeník will renounce his right to marry Mařenka. Kecal eventually reaches a price which Jeník finds agreeable, and Jeník agrees to sell the rights to his fiancée for 300 guilders. Jeník also specifies that this is on condition that Mařenka marries Mícha’s son. Since Kecal intends Mařenka to marry Vašek, so that he can get his money, he readily agrees. As soon as the contract is signed, the entire town repudiates Jeník.

Act 3
A travelling circus comes to town, and Vašek becomes entranced with the gypsy, Esmeralda. There is some trouble with one of the acts, and Vašek is persuaded to assist the circus. Mařenka is angry with Jeník for what he has done, and she angrily turns her back on him and agrees to marry Vašek. When both sets of parents meet Mařenka, the appearance of Jeník at the meeting results in the revelation that Jeník is the long-lost son of Mícha from his first marriage, and that Jeník had been hounded out of house and home by his stepmother, Háta (who is also Vašek’s mother). As a result of this revelation, the terms of the contract between Kecal and Jeník, whereby Jeník gave her up (on condition that Mařenka should marry the son of Mícha), allows Mařenka to marry either Jeník or Vašek. Mařenka chooses Jeník, and Kecal is left with the embarrassment of having paid Jeník 300 guilders in order for Jeník to give up the right to marry Mařenka, to Jeník, himself. At this time, a frightened child rushes in and exclaims that a bear has escaped from the circus. As everybody cowers, the bear wanders in and pulls off its head, revealing that it was just the immature Vašek disguised in a bear costume for the circus. Embarrassed, Háta drags Vašek off and the parents and the villagers congratulate the happy couple.

CD 1
SMETANA, Bedřich (1824-1884) 
Act I 
1. Scene 1: Come, then let us all be merry7:44
2. Scene 2: If I thought you would be faithless4:38
3. Tho" a mother is a blessing2:04
4. If our love is strong and true3:57
5. Scene 3: As I said before, old crony4:40
6. Such a nice lad4:36
7. Scene 4: Here she comes6:28
8. Scene 5: Come now, lassies4:14
Act II 
9. Scene 1: Come comrades drain the foaming ale4:17
10. Furiant2:05
11. Scene 2: Ma-ma-mam said to me2:04
12. Scene 3: I know of one lonely maid7:02

CD 2
1. Scene 4: Just a word with you, my boy2:53
2. Ev"ry lover"s girl3:29
3. I know a maiden1:54
4. Say that you"ll give up Marenka3:05
5. Scene 5: How could he ever3:28
6. Scene 6: Come here, neighbours all3:53
Act III 
7. Scene 1: With dread my wits are c-cumbered3:59
8. Scene 2: Walk up, walk up, please, ladies and gentlemen1:20
9. Skocna3:51
10. Ye-ye-ye-ye-yes! That will be lovely!3:42
11. Now my dear Sir Bruin1:38
12. Scenes 3-5: Oh dear! I feel very sad!9:08
13. Stay awhile here and ponder3:52
14. Scene 6: Our dream of love6:10
15. Scene 7: Now what a stubborn lass you are3:44
16. Scene 8: Take comfort, my dearest, do not weep4:48
17. Scenes 9-10: Finale. Have you reflected and made up your mind. Happy pair at last we"re mated6:53


The first complete recording of a Czech opera was this production of Smetana's beloved work, made in Prague in 1933. Otakar Ostrcil was then the director of the National Opera, and this recording highlights his leading of the tightly-woven ensemble of singers and orchestra.

The remarkable standard of Czech opera singing of the period is a feature of this recording, now beautifully transferred to CD in a remastering that belies its age.


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