[Met Performance] CID:326010
The Bartered Bride {76} Metropolitan Opera House: 10/1/1996.

(Debut: Timothy Nolen
Review)


Metropolitan Opera House
October 1, 1996
In English


THE BARTERED BRIDE {76}
Smetana-Sabina

Marenka.................Gwynne Geyer
Jeník...................David Kuebler
Vasek...................Vladimir Bogachov
Kecal...................Paul Plishka
Ludmila.................Stephanie Blythe
Krusina.................Timothy Nolen [Debut]
Háta....................Rosalind Elias
Tobias..................Julien Robbins
Circus Barker...........Peter Kazaras
Esmeralda...............Korliss Uecker
Red Indian..............LeRoy Lehr
Gossip..................Suzanne Laurence

Conductor...............James Levine

Production..............John Dexter
Stage Director..........David Kneuss
Set designer............Josef Svoboda
Costume designer........Jan Skalicky
Lighting designer.......Gil Wechsler
Choreographer...........Pavel Smok
Translation.............Tony Harrison

The Bartered Bride received eight performances this season.

[This performance was dedicated to the memory of Pilar Lorengar, who died 6/2/1996.

Suzanne Laurence appeared in the mime role of Gossip at all performances this season, but did not receive program billing until 10/19/1996]

Review of Robert Croan in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of October 7, 1996

Geyer glows as a substitute 'Bride' in well-played Met production

NEW YORK - They say you're not a true opera-goer until you've been to one of Teresa Stratas' famous cancellations. I've attended several, and they've introduced me to the talented newcomers who stand in the wings for this temperamental and elusive Canadian.

Sure enough, on the second night of the Metropolitan Opera season last Tuesday, Stratas canceled as Marenka in Smetana's "The Bartered Bride." Replacing her was Gwynn Geyer, a native of Boyertown, Pa. She may not have Stratas' strong stage persona, but she brings an opulent sound that is an asset in Smetana's music (which is heavy for the singers despite "The Bartered Bride's" comic plot) plus a youthful demeanor that the 58-yearold veteran artist no longer offers.

Happily, she was paired with David Kuebler as Jenik - a handsome hero with a slim but steady tenor voice perfect for roles such as this. John Dexter's lively staging also enhanced the production, as did performing this Czech folk opera in clearly enunciated English.

The present production dates from 1978, when it played for six weeks (with Stratas in the title part). Josef Svoboda's sets are physically sparse but colorful, and still fresh - notwithstanding their age and long period of disuse.

In the past I've always been rather bored by "The Bartered Bride," but the brilliantly played Overture - under James Levine's incomparable leadership - and gorgeous choral singing at the rise of the curtain gave an entirely new perspective. An additional pleasant surprise was the superior choreography by Pavel Smok. Most operatic dance sequences are throwaways, but these were thoroughly engaging and often quite amusing.

Paul Plishka, the Met's all-purpose house basso, was deficient in humor and dry of voice as the marriage broker, Kezal. But veteran mezzo Rosalind Elias - who made her debut with the company in 1954 - was still in form as Hata, mother of the intended groom.

Baritone Timothy Nolen, making his debut as the Bride's father, Krusina, displayed a voice too small for this house. The full-voiced Stephanie Blythe, however, followed up her impressive showing in the previous night's "Andrea Chenier" with another "mother" role that could presage an important career.

On the other hand, Vladimir Bogachov made a poor showing as the stuttering younger son Vasek. His difficulties with the English language went beyond the character's intended stuttering, and his strained tenor was hard on the ears.



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