Four performances of Czech composer Bedrich Smetana’s classic opera “The Bartered Bride” will be staged Feb. 17-20 at Lawrence University. The comedic tale of match making and marriage will be performed Feb. 17-19 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. in Stansbury Theatre of the Music-Drama Center.
Set in a 19th-century Bohemian village, the opera follows the relationship between Mařenka and Jenik. The two are in love, but Mařenka’s father owes a debt to Micha, a wealthy, older man. Micha wants Mařenka to marry his son, Vašek, and he’s coming to town to seal the deal.
“Smetana and librettist Karel Sabina teamed together to craft a romantic comedy filled with plot twists and sibling rivalry,” said Timothy X. Troy, professor of theatre arts and J. Thomas and Julie Esch Hurvis Professor of Theatre and Drama, who is directing the production. “The story reveals that unflappable loyalty and cleverness can overcome even the most intractable adversity. Mařenka’s inner strength and patience prove the perfect complement to Jenik’s quiet but confident ability to trick his superiors into giving the young couple exactly what they want and deserve.”
The second opera written by Smetana, “The Bartered Bride” premiered in 1866. By the mid-1870s, it was arguably the most popular Czech opera of all time — and many would say it still is. Smetana’s operas established him as a founding father of Czech classical music and this brilliant comedy has become a standard in opera houses around the world.
Smetana’s music is rooted in the traditions of Czech folk music, though the appeal of his melodies is universal,” said Bonnie Koestner, associate professor of music and vocal coach for the production. “We will be performing ‘The Bartered Bride’ in an English translation, so that our audience can directly enjoy the wit and emotion of the opera.”
The production also features a lively dance section in each of its three acts. The dances are choreographed by Monica Rodero, a member of the Milwaukee-based Wild Space Dance Company, which has an artist-in-residency agreement with Lawrence.
“Monica’s setting of the polka in the first act and a furiant in the second act makes a delight for the eye as well as the ear,” said Troy.
The production features a double cast of 50 performers. Junior Julia Steiner (Thur./Sat.) and senior Cassie Glasser (Fri./Sun.) portray Mařenka while seniors Nik Ross (Thurs./Sat.) and Justin Berkowitz (Fri./Sun.) play Jeník. Vašek is portrayed by seniors Pat MacDevitt (Thurs./Sun.) and Alex Gmeinder (Fri./Sun.).
Professor of Music David Becker conducts the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra for the performances.
Lawrence University, "Classic Czech Opera “The Bartered Bride” Comes to Stansbury Theatre" (2011). Press Releases. Paper 435.