(Photo 2005 from the National Theater in Prague)
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jaro * 2005 . ISSN 1093-2887 .

Mark Stringer, Conductor, Eve Shapiro, Director:
Bartered Bride returning to NYC
At Juilliard April 27th, 29th and May 1st
Josef Schrabal

After about nine years, Smetana's Bartered Bride is returning back to New York City. This time to the Met's "next door", to the Juilliard where it will be presented Wednesday, April 27th and Friday, 29th at 8:00 PM; Sunday, May 1st, at 2PM.

Dana Hanover (right) with a friend in Czech national costume just as Marenka was wearing
Photo J. Schrabal
Without any doubt, it is the most charming and delightful opera ever written by a Czech composer Bedrich Smetana (1824 - 1884) in spirit of Czech folklore, who enjoys an asteem in his native land. While Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) is far better known abroad, Smetana is known to most non-Czech music lovers by his dynamic overture and the dance of comedians, both from the Bartered Bride opera.

Actually during the national renaissance awakens Smetana wanted to capture the traditional national Slavonic melodies, dances and rhythmus as polka, furiant and neighborly. To make it more popular and attractive he framed it into an intriguing delightful story. Jenik, a lost son from first marriage of a rich farmer Tobias Micha, is returning home being not recognized yet, falling in love with beautiful Marenka that was committed by her parents to marry a son of Micha. That time Vasek was known as the only son from Micha's second marriage. So Jenik sold his Marenka to himself.

Complete story with some "word-for-word translations" from original Karel Sabina libreto are HERE

The first performance of this second (out of eight) Smetana's opera was given in 1866 in the Prague's Provisional Theater. It consisted of the basic melodies only in two acts with the story narrated. Because of its success and acceptance by the Czech audience, Smetana completely overhauled the first product replacing the spoken recitals with songs and the final version in three acts, as we know it today, was presented in September 1870. In the Czech National theater it has thousands performances annually, even now with matinees in German for people coming to see it in buseloads from Germany.

Czech dancers performing for the International Press Club party at Financial district in New York, 1999
Photo J. Schrabal
In the US the Smetana's Bartered Bride had its premier on February 19,1909 in the NYC Metropolitan Opera House and about 94 productions since. The first 38 in 1911, 12, 26, 28 and 1933 were in German. The first translation by Madeleine Marschall in English from original Karel Sabina's manuscript had its premier in 1936 followed by 19 presentations in 1938, 41 and 42. (There is also another translation in English by Marian Farquhar in 1956.) A completely new production with English translation by Toni Harrison was introduced in 1978. After 17 presentations came the last in 1996 with James Levine conducting. There was 7 presentations in addition to the Public TV that included during the life broadcast intermission interviews and also showing of the extensive research and preparation in the Czech homeland.

So did Eve Shapiro while preparing for directing the Met's "next door" Juilliard's 2005 forthcoming production. Last summer she was traveling in the countryside of the Czech Republic and visited small villages very much like the one in which the opera takes place.

Eve Shapiro was born in South Africa, and has been on the faculty of the Juilliard School since 1976, where she has directed such plays as The Three Sisters, Mother Courage, Guys and Dolls, Man and Superman, Hedda Gabler, Lady from the Sea, among many others.. She was a director and teacher at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London, and Associate Director of York Theater Royal. Other theaters and schools include Leeds Playhouse, British Drama Centre, Bournemouth Repertory Company, Webber Douglas School, and others in England, America, South Africa and Switzerland.

Author of this article is patiently waiting what this new Juilliard production of Eve Shapiro with Mark Stringer conducting will bring.

Musical Preparation: Diane Richardson; Chorus Master: Michael Baitzer; Diction Coach: Kathryn LaBouff; Choreographer: Jeanne Hime; Assoc. Coaches: Donna Gill, Mikhail Hallak; Set Design: Chris Barreca; Costume Design: Jamie Scott; Lighting Design: Matthew McCarthy; Supertitles: Celeste Montemarano

Jenik - Matthew Garrett
Marenka - Melissa Shippen
Kecal - Matthew Boehler
Vasek - Jeremy Little
Kru?ina - Matthew Worth
Ludmila - Amy Wallace-Styles
Micha - Daniel Billings
H?ta - Ronnita Miller
Principal of the Comedians - Javier Abreu
Esmeralda - Katherine Whyte
Indian - David Fry

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