Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden
Tuesday 26 March 2013
Bedřich Smetana: Die verkaufte Braut (The Bartered Bride)
Michiel Dijkema has done it again! After his last staging in 2011 of Rossini’s Barber of Seville he has returned to the Staatstheater Wiesbaden for a brilliant production of Smetana’s Verkaufte Braut. Together with costume designer Claudia Damm and conductor Wolfgang Wengenroth and his orchestra he was the star of this evening, even though there were some minor slips in the musicians’ performance.
Marie (Sharon Kempton with a slightly faint voice) and her lover Hans (Mark Adler, who had the best voice in this opera by far) need to withstand an arranged marriage with the village idiot Wenzel (an utterly brilliant Erik Biegel!), a greedy and persistant matchmaker (Bernd Hofmann) plus some misunderstandings until they can finally be together. All this plays in 19th-century Bohemia, which the audience constantly is reminded of by the music and the costumes, both of which are going together beautifully. The music itself is, except for the overture and one or two known arias, not remarkable, actually. Of course, Smetana wrote lovely tunes (critic Eduard Hanslick once said that Smetana’s tunes soothed the wrecked nerves Wagner has left us with) – but there’s nothing you really remember after the performance, only that there were lots of Bohemian melodies. This is nothing bad, and The Bartered Bride still is and always has been a big success. Yesterday evening though, the factor that made it into a joyful occasion was the production itself. The loving detail of the traditional costumes, the collaboration with the youth circus Flambolé for the third act, the historic scenery, and last but not least the acting talent of some of the singers (Erik Biegel as Wenzel, or Dominik Totsche as Marie’s great grandmother) saved this opera and made it special.
During the interval, the audience was in for a treat: a (fictional) wedding agency performed a public auction with three lovely brides-to-be from Sweden, Russia and Greece. The bidders were played by three men, who became quite violent towards the end of the auction. Enjoying their bubbly and pretzels in the neo-baroque lobby, the crowd was roaring with laughter – a brilliant idea!
Sometimes you just need to overlook the technique, or the imperfections. Comic operas like Smetana’s aren’t the big dramatic ones, and that’s good! I, for instance, like being entertained with class and it’s okay if no one dies.
Next performances will be on 5 April, 12 April and 15 April 2013! Buy tickets here.