Hero or scoundrel? The legendary knight Dalibor even dares to defy the king!
The National TheatreApproximate running time
3 hours 10 minutes, 2 intermission (20 minutes) minutesLanguage
In Czech, surtitles in Czech, EnglishPremiere
June 27, 2019
The libretto, penned by Josef Wenzig, is loosely based on the popular tale of Dalibor, a knight who passed his time in jail by playing the violin. Yet the main subject of Bedřich Smetana’s opera is the question of to what degree one has the right to take the law into his/her hands. Composed in 1866 and 1867, Dalibor was first presented on 16 May 1868 at the New Town Theatre in Prague, marking the laying of the foundation stone of the National Theatre.
The National Theatre Orchestra and Chorus
The story of Dalibor reflects the historical events during the rule of Vladislav II, King of Bohemia, yet the plot is rather centred around a romantic legend of a knight who learns in jail how to play the violin. The popular myth, treated by a number of chroniclers and authors, served as the basis for the libretto of Smetana’s third opera. Dalibor is a romantic tragedy, with passions being the driving force; first Dalibor’s wild desire to avenge the death of his close friend and subsequently Milada’s endeavour to avenge the death of her brother. Their hatred soon gives way to mad affection for each other. But it is too late for their love to reach fruition.
Initially, Dalibor did not meet with an overly positive critical response, nor did the audience react with great enthusiasm. Nevertheless, following its first night in 1886 at the National Theatre in Prague, it would be regularly staged and given almost 1,100 performances. The opera also gained success abroad, including in Vienna, Moscow, Berlin and Edinburgh. One of the first productions beyond Bohemia was the 1897 adaptation in Vienna, conducted by Gustav Mahler, an ardent champion of Smetana’s music. The current production was created by Jaroslav Kyzlink, the music director of the National Theatre Opera, and the stage director Jiří Nekvasil.
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