The Bartered Bride: Context and History

Bedrich Smetana
Bedrich Smetana, 1824-1884

The Bartered Bride,  a comic opera composed by Bedrich Smetana, changed the face of Czech music in 1863 when it was first performed at the Provisional Theatre in Prague.  Smetana, spurred on by a comment made by Viennese conductor Johann von Herbeck that the Czechs were incapable of making music of their own, set out to create a uniquely Czech genre: “I swore there and then that no other than I should beget a native Czech music.”

In his quest to create a truly Czech operatic genre Smetana makes ample use of traditional folk music such as polka and furiant.  He further emphasizes the intrinsic “Czechness” of this ground-breaking opera by making it one of the few in the Czech language written in trochees (a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed one) which matches the natural first-syllabus emphasis in the Czech language.  By 1892 The Bartered Bride had achieved international recognition, for many years remaining the only Czech opera in the general repertory.  Of course scores of music compositions were produced in German by Czech composers.

The Bartered Bride will be performed in English in collaboration with Kingwood College Opera Workshop at the Czech Center Museum Houston September 17 & 18 as theatre in the round.  Reception with hors d’oeuvres and wine will begin at 6:30, performance to follow.  Also included in this magical night is an aria from Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss, Rusalka by Antonin Dvorak and The Barber of Seville by Giocchino Rossini, respectively.

For more information or to reserve tickets please call

713-528-2060 or online at


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