»A musician is well-loved everywhere.« – Just one week after marrying Dorotka, Švanda is lured away by Babinský to seek his fortunes in the wide world. Even Dorotka’s unshakeable belief in the power of marriage in the face of it all proves to be of no avail. In the palace of the ice queen, Švanda’s bagpipe breaks an evil spell and melts frozen hearts. He is to be crowned king, and a passionate kiss seals the bargain. Dorotka, however, magically appears and denounces her unfaithful husband; upon denying everything, he is promptly whisked off to the underworld. Babinský returns to his life of robbery – though always ready and willing to help a man in need; in a diabolic card game, he fools the devil himself, thereby saving Švanda’s soul. The moral of the story? Regardless of how much fame your artistry might bring you in far-off lands, true happiness can only be found at home … Or not?
This fairy tale on human strengths and weaknesses by Prague composer Jaromír Weinberger was a smash hit in 1927. All around the country, Weinberger’s musical kaleidoscope of pulsating dance rhythms, folksongs and great symphonic intermezzi rang out. The libretto by Miroš Kareš was translated into no fewer than 17 languages. However, political forces in Europe conspired to bring this sweeping success to an abrupt end. As a Jewish composer, Weinberg escaped persecution by fleeing to the USA in 1938 via France.
Volksoper in two acts by Jaromír Weinberger. Performed in Czech with German surtitles
Running time 2 hours 45 minutes
Premiere 24 Mar 2012