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Up to the king’s throne, and now to hell and back, please! – In 1927 Jaromír Weinberger became an overnight star following the sensational world premiere in Prague of his Bagpiper Schwanda. The opera was staged thousands of times throughout Europe and in the United States until 1933. Andrea’s Homoki, following the success of the musical My Fair Lady, will be directing this late-romantic musical comedy centered around the bagpiper. Joining the party are baritone Daniel Schmutzhard, playing the world-class Bohemian entertainer, and – as the eternally beloved Dorota – Sara Jakubiak who delighted audiences last season as Marietta in The Dead City. Together with music director Ainārs Rubiķis they shall conquer hearts, minds, the world – and the underworld!
Babinský shows up punctually for dinner at the farmhouse – the bandit, the hero, the legend – and promptly whisks away young Schwanda and his bagpipes. An adventure awaits! The great wide world! With his high spirits and trusty instrument, the young man melts the icy heart of a queen, wins the sympathy of a populace, falls into bouts of jealousy and gets involved in hellish antics. But hell is one thing above all: deathly boring! With Babinský’s help, some wit and a few sleights of hand, Schwanda saves his soul and wins back the love of his life.
With Schwanda, Jaromír Weinberger brought about a work as comic as it is touching. The ode to Bohemia went on to become one of the most frequently performed operas between 1927 and 1933. With its musical roots in the regional dance and folk music of Weinberger’s homeland, it also exhibits stylistic traits from the operas of his countryman Bedřich Smetana – above all The Bartered Bride – and late-romantic orchestral sounds comparable to Franz Schreker and Richard Strauss. There’s just one instrument missing from this score: a bagpipe …