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"As soon as conductor Adam Fischer engages the warp engines and shifts the well known overture into hyperdrive, we know we're in for an exciting performance of Bedrich Smetana's masterpiece, The Bartered Bride. As soon as the wonderful Lucia Popp begins lamenting her impending arranged marriage to the son of the rich landowner Micha from the neighboring village, we know that this will also be a lyrical and emotionally satisfying performance. And as soon as we see the traditional stage sets and costumes, we know that we are witnessing a performance conceived and designed before today's European penchant for updating opera to some strange locale with minimal sets and costumes. This staging of The Bartered Bride is traditional and revels in it.
Filmed live at the Wiener Staatsoper in 1982, the appearance of the townsfolk, wearing their traditional Bohemian costumes, exhuberantly singing and dancing, serves to quickly draw us into the early 1870s and this engaging comedy of love nearly thwarted but ultimately triumphant. Smetana was a confirmed Wagnerian who bridled under the usual criticism of that breed: Wagnerians are great at your typical end-of-the-world conflagration, but they are about as funny as a slow tour of a sausage factory. Smetana set out to prove that he could do funny. The first few years following its 1871 premiere, now in its familiar three act version, were largely unsuccessful. The opera failed to find its audience. All that changed when the libretto was translated into German by Max Kalbeck. It became the basis for the subsequent wildly successful performances at the Theater an der Wien in 1893. It is that German translation that is used here for Otto Schenk's 1982 production.
The late Czech singer Lucia Popp stars as Marenka (Marie). A favorite ever since I first heard her in Klemperer's brilliant 1964 recording of Mozart's The Magic Flute, her ability to fully inhabit a role is in evidence here. Her singing is as lyrically lovely as ever. Siegfried Jerusalem is her beloved Hans. Heinz Zednik is Wenzel, the boy she is forced to marry. Karl Ridderbusch is Kezal, the disreputable town matchmaker. These three Wagnerian singers are a reminder of the roots of this opera and they are splendid. The entire cast is excellent. Superior casting coupled with traditional costumes and lovely set design, yields a positive result: we are pulled, unresisting, into the world of this opera, and we are saddened to leave it when it ends. That's the signature of an exemplary performance. The Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper play beautifully for conductor Adam Fischer. Total time of this DVD is 155 minutes. Sound is in PCM stereo and DTS 5.1, both sounding clear and full. The picture has been digitally remastered and is clear with no artifacts given its age. There are the usual DGG languages, menus and previews.
This is a splendid performance of a great comic opera. It will brighten your day. Strongly recommended.
V. Stasov | 11/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have a poor quality copy of this performance with the stunning Lucia Popp and Siegfried Jerusalem, and so great is some of the singing and the conducting in this production that I've been hoping it would get released on DVD. Their duets together are exquisite: their voices blend beautifully and perfectly, inviting compulsively repeated listening.
Jerusalem has a tendency to sing off pitch, though, and his voice isn't quite up to the demands of the role, but he's good looking and suitably boyish for the part. He has a somewhat annoying "aw shucks" habit of keeping his hands perpetually in his pockets. Maybe DDG will have edited out his bad notes, which were pretty awful, and smoothed over his rough vocal edges.
Lucia Popp is magnificent as Marenka. Her performance is unforgettable. The other available and splendid Bartered Bride is with Peter Dvorsky and Gabriella Benackova. The singing on that studio performance is smoother and more consistently excellent, especially Peter Dvorsky, although she cannot hold a candle to Lucia Popp.
This impressive, live performance is graced with the great, immortal Slovakian soprano. If you like Lucia Popp you'll love this Bartered Bride, which is a very beautiful, tuneful opera that deserves more attention than it gets.
Smetana - The Bartered Bride"
A Must See....
An Opera Goer | Southern Califorina, USA | 12/20/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"whether or not your experiences with opera had been limited to Puccini, Verdi, or Mozart, or you are a Wagner lover (or hater), this one is not to be missed. Smetana's music was considered to be Wagnerian; however, there is nothing to worry about, there is not a trace of Wagnerian in this opera. And surprisingly, there is not a single Czech folksong included in the score. Though, the feeling of Czech folk music in the air is evident. The opera itself is very pleasant to watch and listen. The cast, the presentation, the setting, the quality of the disc, are totally first rate. In general, the singing and acting of the cast members are superb. If you are a fan of Lucia Popp, you will not be disappointed. If you are not a fan of her, you will become one (after watching this). Watch (not just listen) her in the entire Act 3, I bet you have never seen anything like that (in opera) before. Just a little draw back on the part of Siegfried Jerusalem, though he sang through the entire opera smoothly; however, the second act aria was horrible. I wish he could sing like Peter Dvorsky (in another `Bride' DVD, Suppaphon SU 7011-9) or Fritz Wundelich (in CD, EMI CDMB 64002 or the recent re-release EMI 0946 3 81872). There was some problem in his acting too. As V. Stasov pointed out in his review, this guy (Jerusalem) kept his hands in his pockets the whole time. Surely it is annoying. The best-case scenario would be that he just follows the stage director's orders. It is hard to imagine who would let him to do that for the whole 2+ hours? Just too bad it happened. Despite this, this video still deserve a 5-star rating, no doubt. Finally, my recommendation would be to acquire all three versions that I mentioned here. That is: 2 videos (this one, and the one from Suppaphon with Gabriela Benackava) and the EMI CD (with Pilar Lonrengar and Fritz Wundelich). You will not regret it. "
P. Sutherland | Berea, Ohio, USA | 01/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here is an opera that will put a smile on your face! It has everything: great, rousing music, beautiful sets, entertaining dancing, comedy, with excellent singing and acting by all the players and a happy ending to boot.
Lucia Popp and Siegfried Jerusalem make beautiful music together. (Jerusalem has such a goofy charm, he was even likeable as Wagner's Siegfried.) Their duet in Act III when he's trying to tell her who he really is and she isn't listening, is just magical. Heinz Zednik as Wenzel and Karl Ridderbusch as the relentless marriage broker Kezal are terrific as are both sets of parents.
I really enjoyed this opera and recommend it as great entertainment!"
Die verkaufte braut
B. Grimstrup | new zealand | 01/29/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Having seen this opera many years ago i was rather hazy on the story line but on viewing i found it most enjoyable, especially seeing two great singers once more Lucia popp and Siegried Jerusalem they bought vitality to the production This opera is one that you would have to view several times to get all the subilties, it is fun to watch once you have the knack of the story line Perhaps the most difficult understanding ,is one has the main sections of the opera as a concert piece and you are inclined to forget that the rest of the opera has some charming bits of music in it The chorus work is superb and rousing over all i thoroughly enjoyed the performance and would without hesitation recomend it and forget the movie version that is doing the rounds this stage production is well worth the money spent on obtaining the disc"