BBC Music Magazine
'For all the opera's fame, recorded performances are not abundant which makes Mackerras's vibrant new version doubly welcome; also, presenting the opera in English points up interesting affinities with other popular operatic traditions, not least G & S. Throughout, Mackerras secures marvellous playing from the Philharmonia Orchestra... Above all, the prevalent impression is of a strong ensemble performance enhanced by a realistic recording.'
Comic opera in three acts
Libretto by Karel Sabina
English version by Kit Hesketh-Harvey
Neal Davies, baritone - Krušina, a farmer
Yvonne Howard, mezzo-soprano - Ludmila, his wife
Susan Gritton, soprano - Ma?enka, their daughter
Geoffrey Moses, bass - Toby Mícha, a smallholder
Diana Montague, mezzo-soprano - Háta, his wife
Timothy Robinson, tenor - Vašek, their son
Paul Charles Clarke, tenor - ]eník,
Toby Mícha's son from his first marriage
Peter Rose, bass - Kecal, a village marriage-broker
Robin Leggate, tenor - Ringmaster
Yvette Bonner, soprano - Esmeralda, circus artist
Kit Hesketh-Harvey - Indian, circus artist
Two boys - Louis Hill and Ravi Shar
The Royal Opera Chorus
Gareth Hancock - assistant conductor
Sir Charles Mackerras - conductor
Recorded in Blackheath Halls, London, 15-21 & 23 December 2004
Producer - Brian Couzens, Sound engineer - Ralph Couzens, Assistant engineer - Michael Common
Gramophone Editor's Choice
'Nicely timed (November 2005) to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Sir Peter Moores's 'Opera in English' series comes this outstanding new version of The Bartered Bride... What makes this version so successful? The brilliant conducting of Sir Charles Mackerras, of course - 80 next month, he goes from strength to strength - plus the scintillating playing of the Philharmonia; an exceptionally strong team of soloists too. But it's the extra impact of having the comedy delivered in the vernacular that makes this stand out... The sparkling mood is set at the start, with Mackerras taking the Overture at headlong speed and the Philharmonia strings responding with perfect clarity and precision, vividly caught in the warm, clear, well balanced Chandos recording... Thanks are due to Mackerras for the emotional warmth as well as highlighting the colour and energy of Smetana's masterpiece. This counts among the finest of the 'Opera in English' series.'
'This new recording of Smetana's great comedy is arguably the finest achievement to date in Chandos's Opera in English series. Mackerras brings a lifetime's understanding of Czech music to bear on the score, exposing the sadness and cruelty lurking beneath its surface without ever losing sight of its humour... It's wonderfully sung too... It all adds up to an experience of Mozartian profundity which will sweep away any notion that The Bartered Bride is simply a piece of buculic whimsy. Highly recommended.'
Opera Now Choice
'Timed nicely to coincide with an English language revival at Covent Graden of Smetana's classic Czech comedy, the latest recording in the Chandos Opera in English series uses a number of the same principals, as adept and expert here in the studio as they are on the stage... Susan Gritton repeats her Ma?enka - a deeply touching and immaculately sung personification. As at Covent Garden, Peter Rose is a Kecal full of character and dubious machination, and Timothy Robinson makes a sensitive creation out of poor put-upon Vašek. Paul Charles Clarke has the heft and presence to sustain an admirable Jeník, and there are sterling representations of the parents from Neal Davies (Krusina), Yvonne Howard (Ludmila), Geoffrey Moses (Toby Micha) and Diana Montague (Háta). But perhaps the factor above all that places this high among available versions of the opera in any language is the conducting of Sir Charles Mackerras, who understands every nuance of the music's Czech accent and produces a marvellously alive and appealing interpretation. The Philharmonia Orcchestra plays wonderfully for him. An outstanding release, and certainly one of the finest in the entire Chandos sequence.'