Die verkaufte Braut (The Bartered Bride) - Synopsis

Ulrich Reß, Irmgard Vilsmaier Petra-Maria Schnitzer, Peter Seiffert Die verkaufte Braut

Die verkaufte Braut (The Bartered Bride)

Bedrich Smetana
Karel Sabina


Act One

A working day is drawing to its close in the village. Marenka, the daughter of Krusina, a farmer, and his wife, Ludmila, and  Jeník, a labourer who is a newcomer to the village, have fallen in love. Krusina, however, has promised his daughter`s hand in marriage to the son of Mícha, a lord of the manor to whom he owes money, to pay off his debts. Mícha has two sons, one from his first marriage, who was driven out of his home by his step-mother, Háta, and has since disappeared, and Vasek, the son of this second marriage. It is Vasek whom Marenka is to marry.

Kecal, the marriage broker, has opened negotiations between the two families and tries to convince Marenka`s parents of the supposed merits of their future son-in-law. Marenka wants to have nothing to do with Vasek and declares her love for Jeník. The villagers end the evening with a polka.


Act Two

The farmers are sitting drinking beer. Vasek is apprehensive about his impending marriage. He meets Marenka, whom he has never seen before and who does not reveal her identity to him. She describes the bride his parents have chosen for him as being mean and sly and manages to get Vasek to swear that he will not marry this person.

Kecal offers Jeník a deal: he should renounce Marenka and disappear in return for the sum of three hundred florins. Jeník accepts on condition that Marenka should marry Mícha`s son and no other. The contract is signed in the presence of Krusina and the shocked villagers.


Act Three

Vasek is thoroughly confused. A travelling circus announces a performance in the village. Esmeralda, a dancer with the circus, makes a deep impression on Vasek. He allows her to persuade him to stand in for the man who normally dresses up as the dancing bear, who is drunk. To the horror of his parents and Kecal, Vasek refuses to sign the contract and marry Marenka.

Marenka cannot believe that Jeník has cheated and forsaken her, but as he does not deny that he has been bought off, she decides in a fit of pique to marry Vasek after all.

Mícha recognizes in Jeník the son he thought he had lost. In accordance with the conditions of the contract Jeník, as Mícha´s  son, has just as much right to claim Marenka`s hand as does Vasek. Marenka chooses Jeník. Háta and Kecal  see all their hopes crushed and are forced to accept defeat. To the surprise of the assembled villagers Vasek appears in the costume of the dancing bear. Mícha gives the happy couple his blessing and the whole village looks forward to the wedding of Jeník and his "bartered bride".

Translation: Susan Bollinger
© Bayerische Staatsoper