Smetana - Bartered Bride - Overture
Type of Spiritual Experience
Smetana's eight operas created the bedrock of the Czech opera repertory, but of these only The Bartered Bride is performed regularly outside the composer's homeland. After reaching Vienna in 1892 and London in 1895, it rapidly became part of the repertory of every major opera company worldwide. Newmarch argues that The Bartered Bride, while not a "gem of the first order", is nevertheless "a perfectly cut and polished stone of its kind."
Its trademark overture, which Newmarch says "lifts us off our feet with its madcap vivacity", was composed in a piano version before Smetana received the draft libretto. Clapham believes that this has few precedents in the entire history of opera.
Smetana himself was later inclined to disparage his achievement: "The Bartered Bride was merely child's play, written straight off the reel". In the view of German critic William Ritter, Smetana's creative powers reached their zenith with his third opera, Dalibor.