The Czech classic dramatist’s most celebrated play is a tall story for both adults and children. The winsome fairy tale blends real, typically Czech characters with the mysterious realm of Nature, the world of supernatural forces. It is also a Czech myth, part of our common memory, telling of our roots. Of how we perceive home, Nature and the world around us. That is why this very Czech play is the only one to have been afforded the attribute “national”. Venue: Prague National Theatre, Tue 24 October 2017.
Švanda the Bagpiper written in 1926, is an opera in two acts (five scenes), with music by Jaromír Weinberger to a Czech libretto by Miloš Kareš, based on the drama Strakonický dudák and Hody divých žen (The Bagpiper of Strakonice) by Josef Kajetán Tyl. Its first performance was in Prague at the Czech National Opera on 27 April 1927. It premiered in German, with the translation by Max Brod, at Breslau on 16 December 1928.
At the time, the opera, with its use of Czech folk material, enjoyed considerable success, with translations into 17 languages. Since that time, the opera has fallen from the repertory, although in orchestral performances and recordings, the ”Polka and Fugue” now together form a concert work that is heard more often than the opera itself.
Švanda the bagpiper does not know his mother is penniless and hence cannot marry his beloved Dorotka. So he goes out into the world, where his bewitching bagpipes earn him success but not happiness. He escapes imprisonment and returns home. Yet he cannot find peace and sinks to the very bottom, as though he were cursed. Švanda is ultimately saved by Dorotka’s love. The production will be directed by J. A. Pitínský, who with great imagination has staged many a classic Czech work