Charles Mackerras

Smetana: The Bartered Bride

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AllMusic Review by

The Bartered Bride continues Chandos' series Opera in English, and it succeeds admirably in this spirited and well-sung performance. The quality of translation is a critical element in the success of an endeavor such as this. Happily, the version by Kit Hesketh-Harvey (who also has a small role in the opera) is rendered into idiomatic and singable English. There is a whiff of W.S. Gilbert in the broad humor and in the rhyme schemes, but that is not entirely inappropriate, as the plot has some typically Gilbertian twists and characters and given the music's occasional similarities to that of Arthur Sullivan.

Soprano Susan Gritton as Marenka and tenor Paul Charles Clarke as Jeník are adorably fresh and young sounding as the couple faced with the dilemma of Marenka's imminent arranged marriage to the village dullard, and they deliver their intimate banter with humor and lightness. The singers in the supporting roles are comparably strong. Bass Peter de Rose is hilarious as Kecal, the unctuous marriage broker, and baritone Neal Davies and mezzo-soprano Yvonne Howard bring warm and supple voices to the roles of Marenka's parents. Tenor Timothy Robinson captures both the humor and poignancy in Vasek, Marenka's intended bridegroom.

The Philharmonia Orchestra and the Royal Opera House Chorus, under the leadership of Charles Mackerras, play and sing with exuberance and panache, bringing out both the lightness and lyric sweep the opera requires. Chandos' sound is clear, and effectively conveys the spatial relationships of a stage production. The performance is a compelling argument for this attractive and tuneful work that is seen too rarely in American opera houses.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Prodaná nevesta (The Bartered Bride), opera, JB 1:100
1 06:29 Amazon
2 04:36 Amazon
3 03:27 Amazon
4 01:18 Amazon
5 03:34 Amazon
6 00:53 Amazon
7 02:25 Amazon
8 03:44 Amazon
9 05:05 Amazon
10 00:59 Amazon
11 03:57 Amazon
12 04:51 Amazon
13 01:53 Amazon
14 04:39 Amazon
15 05:04 Amazon
16 02:18 Amazon
17 02:18 Amazon
18 01:28 Amazon
19 06:03 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Prodaná nevesta (The Bartered Bride), opera, JB 1:100
1 00:48 Amazon
2 02:39 Amazon
3 03:32 Amazon
4 02:03 Amazon
5 03:33 Amazon
6 03:50 Amazon
7 04:25 Amazon
8 04:01 Amazon
9 02:44 Amazon
10 06:01 Amazon
11 04:52 Amazon
12 01:44 Amazon
13 00:56 Amazon
14 02:43 Amazon
15 04:57 Amazon
16 01:14 Amazon
17 03:17 Amazon
18 01:48 Amazon
19 04:33 Amazon
20 04:31 Amazon
21 01:18 Amazon
22 03:36 Amazon
23 01:11 Amazon
24 03:39 Amazon
25 03:10 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick