The Bartered Bride

Last night, instead of going to the St. Mikuláš Day celebrations, CHP took us to the opera. We went to go and see The Bartered Bride, which is a comedic opera about a girl, Mařenka, who is in love with a man named Jeník.Unfortunately, Mařenka’s parents have deteremined that she will marry another man, Vašek, whom she has never met before. Jeník makes a deal with the matchmaker, Kecal, that Mařenka can only marry the son of Micha (who is Vašek’s father) and accepts 300 gold pieces as a payoff to leave. Meanwhile, Mařenka finds Vašek and convinces him not to marry Mařenka because she will only cheat on him and kill him. Terrified, he informs his parents that he no longer wishes to marry Mařenka. When it comes to light that Jeník has agreed to accept gold in the place of marrying Mařenka, she is devastated. But, the opera ends on a high note (literally, haha), when Jeník greets Vašek’s father as “father”. (It turns out that Jeník is in fact Vašek’s half-brother and he left home when his father remarried because he hated his step-mother.) But, as a son of Micha, he is eligible to marry the lovely Mařenka.Hope you followed that! If you didn’t or want a more flushed out synopsis, feel free to take a gander over to my good friend wikipedia for an excellent synopsis.

CHP had fabulous seats for us – the first balcony – which are some of the best seats at an opera that I have ever sat in. Plus, it totally beat sitting behind a column like I did at the ballet! The National Theater is beautiful – it is filled with golden moldings, luscious curtains, and because it is a pretty small theater, it has the added benefit of feeling intimate and cozy. That being said, I feel a little spoiled, as, with the exception of the Budapest Opera, all of my experience with the opera is with the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center. So the bar was set pretty high for this opera. And to be honest, I’m not convinced that it measured up. Sure, the music was beautiful and it was a fun and easy-to-follow story line, but I thought that the scenery was lacking – it was comprised mostly of 3 supposed-to-be dirt-covered planks of wood and another curved piece that Mařenka and Jeník had quite a few songs on together. When the scenery was changed, it creaked nosily and the stagehands were often visible. This is not to say that I didn’t have a great evening – the music really was beautiful and it was fun to get dressed up and go to the theater – I guess I just had high expectations.

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