The Bartered Bride

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August 2024 Next

Smetana and the librettist Karel Sabina masterfully mocked all those who expected the “national opera” to be an idyllic picture of the Czech countryside, with its inhabitants being virtuous and governed by high morals. The Bartered Bride is thus far more humorous than “national”. Nonetheless, its humour is precisely of the type Czechs so love, and hence Smetana’s opera, abounding in irony, scathing, occasionally even cynical, wit, as well as tenderness and simple joie de vivre, has ultimately become “national” in the best sense of the word ...
The National Theatre has presented many adaptations of The Bartered Bride, which has always been a staple of its repertoire. The 21st production of The Bartered Bride was entrusted to the film and stage director Alice Nellis. What prevails this time? Sentimental foregrounding of the life in a picturesque Czech village, or jest and the self-irony with which Smetana and Sabina imbued their opera? As interpreted by Alice Nellis, The Bartered Bride this time does not only poke fun at villagers of bygone times, but also at those who for generations have striven to find the formula for restaging the Czech "opera of operas“. Accordingly, the new production of The Bartered Bride does not only retell the story of Mařenka, Jeník, Vašek and Kecal, it is also about “how opera is made“ – how rehearsals proceed, how it gradually assumes a theatrical shape, how the director tries to make the opera “modern”, how the others frown at his endeavours, what can happen at the rehearsals,
and how The Bartered Bride finally finds the right form – merry indeed, as well as moving and visually beautiful!

Program and cast

Conductor - Jaroslav Kyzlink

Mařenka - Kateřina Kněžíková

Mařenka 2 - Doubravka Součková

Jeník - Peter Berger

Kecal - Jiří Sulženko

Vašek - Josef Moravec

Ludmila / Esmeralda - Lucie Hájková

Krušina / Indian - Martin Bárta

Háta - Yvona Škvárová

Mícha - František Zahradníček

Principal - Jaroslav Březina


Creative team

Stage director - Alice Nellis

Set and Light design - Matěj Cibulka

Costumes - Kateřina Štefková

Choreography / Motion cooperation - Klára Lidová

Videoart - Michal Mocňák

Chorus master - Pavel Vaněk

Dramaturgy - Ondřej Hučín


Approximate running time: 3 hours, 2 intermission (20 minutes) minutes

Language: In Czech, surtitles in Czech, English

Prague National Theatre

The National Theatre today


The historical building of the National Theatre, constructed in 1883, is generally considered the prime stage in the CzechRepublic. It is the flagship of the National Theatre institution, today amounting to five buildings and encompassing four companies. You can see there Opera, Drama and Ballet performances.


Idea of building a stately theatre for the Czech nation


The National Theatre is the embodiment of the will of the Czech nation for a national identity and independence. Collections of money among the broad mass of the people facilitated its construction and hence the ceremonial laying of its foundation stone on 16 May 1868 was tantamount a nationwide political manifestation.


The idea of building a stately edifice to serve as a theatre was first mooted in the autumn of 1844 at meetings of patriots in Prague. It began to materialise through a request for “the privilege of constructing, furnishing, maintaining and managing” an independent Czech theatre, which was submitted to the Provincial Committee of the Czech Assembly by František Palacký on 29 January 1845. The privilege was granted in April 1845. Yet it was not until six years later – in April 1851 – that the Society for the Establishment of a Czech National Theatre in Prague (founded in the meantime) made its first public appeal to start collections. A year later the proceeds of the first collections allowed for the purchase of land belonging to a former salt works with the area of less than 28 acres, which predetermined the magnificent location of the theatre on the bank of the river Vltava facing the panorama of Prague Castle, yet at the same time the cramped area and trapezoidal shape posed challenging problems for the building’s designers.

By car

To the centre (OldTown), approach on Masarykovo nábřeží (Masaryk embankment) in the direction from the Dancing House, at the crossroads in front of the National Theatre turn right to Divadelní street and then right again to Ostrovní street to the National Theatre car park. Parking costs 50 CZK/h.


By tram

By daytime trams Nos. 6, 9, 18 and 22 and night trams Nos. 53, 57, 58, 59 to the stop “Národní divadlo” – in front of the NT historical building; by daytime tram No. 17 to the stop “Národní divadlo”.


By metro

To the station “Můstek”, line B (yellow), and then by foot on Národní street; or to the station “Karlovo náměstí” and then two stops by tram No. 6, 18 or 22 to the stop “Národní divadlo”. To the station “Staroměstská”, line A (green), and then two stops by tram No. 17 to the stop “Národní divadlo”. 

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