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Cast Details, Image Gallery and Reviews

Producer / Director

Kevin John

Musical Director

Lewis Gaston


Author: Pauline Surrey

The Bartered Bride, written by Smetana in 1866, was one of his main contributions to Czech music. Beautiful Marenka’s marriage plans are threatened by the machinations of competing suitors and a scheming marriage broker. In a nutshell, we have a love story, an obstacle, and finally a happy ending.

The production opened onto a gloriously sunny village scene, which really made one want to visit the Czech Republic. An excellent set, beautiful village buildings, colourfully painted, authentic village fair tables and benches, a great selection of beer tankards, the story could begin!

It is the annual village fair, so we have lots of singing, dancing, beer drinking and general jollity. We sense that we are going to have an uplifting show, with lots of chuckles, and a happy ending, despite the problems that the young lovers are experiencing. The chorus performed enthusiastically and well, and seemed well practised in raising their beer tankards!

Guildford Opera must be congratulated on the choice of cast, we had fine voices throughout. The lovers, Marenka (Eleanor Janes) and Jenik (Laszlo Bede) acted their parts very well, as well as singing beautifully. The worry etched on Marenka’s face, as she considered whether or not she could believe and trust Jenik, was extremely authentic.  His seeming lack of concern at her situation, (he did after all know the truth about his background), would have driven any lady to despair!

Her official suitor, the hapless and stammering Vasek – very tricky to sing and stammer at the same time – was portrayed very well and endearingly – especially in his bear costume – by Richard Hansen.

The parents of Marenka and Jenik, played by Cristina Bede, Simon Wilson, Rachel Falaise and Derek S. Henderson produced a thing of great beauty as they sang together warning Marenka to ‘think it (her future) over carefully’. One of the highlights of the evening, in my opinion.

Shaun Aquilina, as Kecal the marriage broker, gave a robust and fine performance, both from the point of view of his singing and of his acting. One knew right from the start, with his strutting arrogantly about the stage, that he was due for a fall! He was able to portray Kecal as inflated with self-importance, but not over-caricatured.  An excellent performance, a fine voice.

So congratulations are due to the team of Director, Kevin John, and Musical Director, Lewis Gaston, to the backstage team, to the extremely jolly chorus, and to the superb soloists. A fine evening!

The Bartered Bride  –  Smetana