Emanuel František Züngel
Musical preparation: Robert Jindra
Conductor: Jan Chalupecký
Stage director: Jiří Nekvasil
Sets: Daniel Dvořák
Costumes: Theodor Pištěk
Chorus master: Martin Buchta
Choreography: Ladislava Košíková
Dramaturgy: Beno Blachut
National Theatre Orchestra
National Theatre Chorus
Ballet of the National Theatre Opera
Premiere: May 30 and June 3, 2013
After a long interval, the National Theatre repertoire will again be enriched by a work of the oldest of the titans of Czech opera, Bedřich Smetana. Alongside The Bartered Bride and The Kiss, The Two Widows is an antipode to the efforts for majestic historical opera drama. Smetana’s opera buffa revels in optimism and playfulness, is replete with masterful musical characterisation, while at the same time representing a great challenge for the performers, since even in this “light-hearted” work the vocal parts can by no means be considered simple or trivial. If we disregard Smetana’s operatic fragment Viola, based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, then The Two Widows (1874) is his only opera not inspired by a Czech source.
Although Jean Pierre Mallefille’s French comedy is set by Smetana in a Czech milieu, this fact does not play a significant role as regards the work’s overall impact. It is a chamber, or small-town, comedy taking place at “the beginning of the modern era”, which may remind today’s audience of many a thing from the films shot during the First Czechoslovak Republic. Karolina and Anežka, cousins and widows, are staying together at a country manor. Karolina is merry, lighthearted and venturesome, whereas Anežka is convinced that as a widow she must be in mourning until the end of her days. This, however, will soon change!
Photo: Hana Smejkalová
The opera is staged in czech and english surtitles are use in the performance.
Duration of the performance: 2 hours and 20 minutes, 1 intermission