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The Bartered Bride

Smetana’s exuberant opera, directed by Mellika Melouani Melani.

What price can we put on love? In the hands of director Mellika Melouani Melani, Smetana’s delightful opera becomes an exuberant rebellion.

In a run-down neighbourhood, desires are simmering. The summer heat is driving people crazy with passion, life and desire. They love, they fight, they make plans and deals. We meet the young Mařenka, who is passionately in love with a stranger called Jeník. But their love is under threat. Mařenka’s parents want to marry her off to the wealthy Vašek in order to pay off a debt. A bumpy ride to happiness begins, along with melancholy, deceit and a magnificent circus.

Director Mellika Melouani Melani dusts off this Czech national-romantic opera and imbues it with punky love, strong desires and violent rebellion against traditional norms. Is this a socially critical romantic comedy or a study of the absurd tragedy of relationships? Yes, to both.

Smetana, who lived in Gothenburg for five years, has imbued this comic opera with irresistible charm. Exuberant, explosive and sentimental, it offers romantic arias, lively choruses and Czech folk music. The Bartered Bride was the first opera written in Czech (in 1866), and has been performed at Prague’s National Theatre over 2,500 times.

Credits: Lennart Sjöberg

Credits: Lennart Sjöberg