Appalachian Opera Theatre to Present ‘The Bartered Bride’ March 31 – April 3

Published Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 11:14 am

Appalachian Opera Theatre and the Hayes School of Music will present Bedřich Smetana’s “The Bartered Bride” March 31-April 3. This lively tale of love, betrayal and reconciliation has delighted audiences since its premiere in 1866. The production is set in the High Country during the 1950s.

“The Bartered Bride” will be performed in Broyhill Music Center’s Rosen Concert Hall. Performances begin at 8 p.m. March 31-April 2 and at 2 p.m. April 3 p.m. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for the general public. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts box office at 800-841-2787 or online at http://theschaefercenter.org/tickets.

Presented in English, the production features the Appalachian Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Cornelia Laemmli-Orth. It is directed by John Fowler and Tammy Griffin-Garcia, both members of the Hayes School of Music voice faculty.

Fowler has had a 30-year career as an operatic tenor, voice teacher and opera director. He has performed title roles on many of the world’s premier stages, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, and in Vienna, Berlin, Nice, Paris, Spain and other international locales.

“The Bartered Bride” takes place in a small town during the spring festival, a prime opportunity for the town gossips to sniff out news of young romances. Marie’s parents are attempting to arrange her marriage to the son of a rich farmer, with the help of the cynical marriage broker Kecal. But Marie has already fallen in love with Jenik, a mysterious young man from out of town. When Marie and Jenik take matters into their own hands to prevent the unwanted marriage, things take some unexpected turns as chaos and hilarity ensue.

“The primary theme is that love conquers all, that love brings reconciliation and healing,” said Bree Jordan, a first-year graduate student who performs the title role of Marie. “These are things that connect with us the same way today as they would have in 1866. That’s why I think this updated production works so well. You have the vitality of the characters, and then you add the vibrancy of the 1950s era – it’s a recipe for a great show.”

 The production lasts approximately two hours.

“Our director, John Fowler, was the one who thought of setting the opera in a regional context in the Appalachian mountains, which I think is incredibly insightful,” added Jason Nichols, a tenor and first-year graduate student who will sing the role of Vašek. “It’s special that we have a director who is so experienced and so well-versed in opera. And we are so privileged to work with our conductor, Cornelia Laemmli-Orth, who is an incredible musician.”

“The Bartered Bride” is one of the first and most defining works of Czech national music. Nichols noted that the music sounds deceptively simple to the ear due to its light-heartedness and folk influence, but that in reality it is very intricate. This has proven a healthy challenge for the singers and orchestra alike. “Smetana’s music is a wonderful example of the Eastern European style,” said professional tenor John Kaneklides, who is singing the role of Jenik. “I’m happy that this production promises to make the music accessible to modern audiences in a wonderful way.”

The production is double-cast. For the Thursday and Saturday performances, soprano Elizabeth Chapa sings the role of Marie, with tenor Remy Martin as Jenik, baritone Evan Adair as Kecal, and tenor Ethan Garner as Vašek. Friday and Sunday performances feature Bree Jordan, soprano, in the role of Marie, with professional tenor John Kaneklides as Jenik, baritone Coburn Jones as Kecal and Jason Nichols, tenor, in the role of Vašek. Supporting roles and a chorus of townspeople spotlight additional talented singers from the Hayes School of Music.

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