Westminster Opera Theatre will present Bedrich (Frederick) Smetana’s comic opera The Bartered Bride on Friday, April 7 and Saturday, April 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the Robert L. Annis Playhouse on the campus of Westminster Choir College of Rider University. It will be performed in English supertitles and with a chamber ensemble. William Hobbs is musical director for the production and Ivan Fuller is stage director. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors. They can be purchased online at www.rider.edu/arts or by calling 609-921-2663.
Considered to be the quintessential Czech opera, The Bartered Bride is the tale of a bride who thinks she’s betrayed by her true love in a business transaction involving a family secret. Set against a background of colorful Czech folk music and dancing. This production is distinguished by costumes designed and created for it by costume designer Jasmina Pacek. The design combines elements of Czech traditional clothing, based on the historical and geographical context of The Bartered Bride, and the contemporary subculture of steampunk, a subgenre of science fiction with elements of alternative history, as envisioned by Ivan Fuller, the production’s director. Pacek addressed this challenge by using the traditional Czech color pallet (black, white, beige, red and yellow) and the steampunk concepts of asymmetry and self-standing objects in costumes that she hand-crocheted. The results are contemporary looking self-standing costume elements, such as head coverings, necklaces and bracelets. Before traveling to the United States for this production, the costumes were the focus of an exhibit “Costume as Sculpture” at the Museum of Fine Arts in Osijek, Croatia.
Westminster Choir College faculty member Williams Hobbs works at many of the world’s major opera houses as conductor and coach. These include the Opéra National de Paris, the Salzburg Festival, San Francisco Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Seattle Opera, Washington Opera and the Opéra de Monte-Carlo. He has assisted conductors Claudio Abbado, Sir Charles Mackerras, Jiří Bělohlávek, Jiří Kout, Marco Armiliato and many others, and worked closely with singers such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, Sonia Ganassi, Placido Domingo, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Sam Ramey and Kurt Moll. Mr. Hobbs is the founder and artistic director of Opera Slavica, which made its debut concert at Merkin Concert Hall in New York in the summer of 2009. Opera Slavica is devoted to presenting forgotten masterworks from Russian, Czech and Polish composers, and to providing singers with no background in these languages the knowledge and training to sing, read and translate them.
Director Ivan Fuller serves Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts as professor of theatre, chair of the Theatre & Dance Department, interim chair of the Fine Arts Department and Associate Dean of the School of Fine & Performing Arts. Prior to coming to Rider, Dr. Fuller spent 21 years as a professor of theatre at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., where he served as chair of the Performing & Visual Arts Department. He was the founder and artistic director of the Bare Bodkins Theatre Company, which produced summer Shakespeare in Sioux Falls.