Theatre at UBC/ The Opera Ensemble
Libretto by Karel Sabina
Sung in Czech with English surtitles
Director: Josef Novak Conductor: Norbert Baxa Musical
Director: Richard Epp Set design: Alessia Carpoca Lighting
design: Jeremy Baxter Costume design : Opera House Opava,
Dana Svobodova Czech coach and surtitles : Milena Janda Stage
Manager: Alishia Harris
Chan Centre for the Performing Arts Dates: 6-9 March 2003
What an experience for the students of UBC Opera School to take part
in a Czech opera directed and conducted by distinguished Czech musicians!
This was also a rare experience for the audience. Smetana is one of
the earlier composers of what is generally called folk opera and The
Bartered Bride, more correctly translated as "The Sold Bride,"
is his first.
The story is of a girl forced to marry a wealthy man's son in payment
for a family debt. However, the bride has other ideas, and refuses to
comply with her father's bargain, until it is revealed that the prospective
bridegroom is the man with whom she is in love and pledged to. So all
ends happily even though the intended bridegroom sells his beloved.
This amusing and felicitous work was performed in an ingenious mittel-Europa
picture book setting with colourful costumes matching the music.
The orchestra performed well under the baton of Norbert Baxa, bringing
his national music to Vancouver and the singing of the chorus had a
lightheartedness in keeping with the theme of the tale. Outstanding
among the cast on the first night, was Neema Bickersteth as Marenka.
Her beautiful voice and musicianship were thrilling. As Jenik, John
Arsenault sang somewhat tentatively at first, but redeemed himself admirably
as the evening proceeded. Pierre Hungr made the most of his role as
the marriage broker, Kecal. Alex Good, as Vasek, gave a humourous and
lively performance as the somewhat bewildered and totally unsuitable
prospective bridegroom. His enchantment with the attractive circus company
was shared with the equally appreciative audience.
This was a delightful evening of well performed opera, full of youthful
charm. The future of opera looks very promising.