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Overture, "The Bartered Bride"

Bedrich Smetana
(1824-84)



"Die verkaufte Braut" ("The Bartered Bride", or "The Sold Bride"), one of the most successful and beautiful of modern operas was first produced in 1895. Its overture was first known as "Lustspiel," or "Comedy Overture," and is considered the gem of the work. The story of the opera is a simple one. Hans, the step-son of the peasant Micha, after being driven from home, returns and falls in love with Marenka. Her mother consents to the proposal of Kezal, the marriage broker, that she shall marry Wenzel, Hans’ half-brother. Then the broker offers a bribe to Hans if he will abandon his claim. Hans agrees provided Marenka will marry "the son of Micha." Marenka is grieved at the seeming abandonment, but at last Hans reveals himself and all are happy. The first theme of the overture is announced in the violins, violas, cellos, and woodwinds in unison, with a stately accompaniment of chords in the brasses with tympani. This theme is most ingeniously elaborated in fugal form and worked up to a climax, after which it is given out in unison as in the beginning. The second theme is announced in the oboe with clarinet, bassoon, horn, and second violin accompaniment. It is very brief, and is followed by a charming theme in violins and cellos. The first theme then returns in the woodwinds, and next in the strings, whereupon the fugal elaboration is resumed, leading to a fortissimo. After further development the first theme returns in the same form as in the beginning. Further development follows, after which the Coda, based on the first theme, brings the overture to an animated close.





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