I heard the performance of The Bartered Bride on the final evening and, as with the rest of the audience, was thoroughly entertained.
The plot of the opera is quite simplistic, with a nice happy ending where the lovers are united and earlier family differences are forgiven. Smetana’s music is strongly dependent on the quality of the musicians as the orchestral input is very large. The orchestra of Surrey Opera were lively, musical and well balanced. Right from their long opening overture they set a good atmosphere for the evening, so congratulations to their conductor, Jonathan Butcher.
Smetana’s music for the singers is a so lively and carries along the story line well, but he does not really write tunes that are instantly memorable and fit into the opera hit list. Nevertheless, his writing for the singers is musically enjoyable. He succeeds particularly well with a couple of duets and in the quintets and sextets. The English text was in a new and clear translation. This was available in surtitles but the diction of the singing was good and so surtitles were rarely essential, which is a considerable compliment to the singers.
Surrey Opera have some high quality professional singers and the lead roles, played by Rebecca Hodgetts and Stephen Brown as the young lovers, were highly applauded by the audience. I particularly liked Tim Baldwin as the marriage broker (Kecal) as he managed to introduce a nice balance of sound tone and menace into his part.
All the rest of the soloists gave good support to the plot. There was a large chorus and, except for a few odd patches, they added the necessary musical crowd scenes and they were obviously enjoying themselves.
Overall I thought this was very entertaining production.