Caption: Jerod Bertram (Krusina), Catherine Daniel (Ludmila), Simone Osborne (Marenka) & Trevor Vandenbussche (Kecal
) in The Bartered Bride
Special mention must also be made of James Creswell as the manipulative village mayor, Kecal
, and Nicholas Watts as Vaek, who stutters his way through his sung and spoken lines to bring an element of emotional vulnerability and insecurity.
A gloriously bass-voiced James Cresswell plays Kecal
, the machinating Mayor who sets up Marenka's marriage for money, against her will, to stammering city-boy toff Vaek (Nicholas Watts).
Jozef Benci is a brilliant Kecal
, with his comical ceremoniousness, even minor funny neighbourly displays, making him a nigh-on ideal performer of the character, The two parents fully meet the requirements of their roles.
On the whole, softer and protracted tempos characterised Harnoncourt's musical exploration, built on the contrast of earthy dances (who else would have put them across with such tremendous verve as he?) and subdued (the Jenik and Marie duet in Act 1) or at least slower (the Kecal
and Jenik duet in Act 2) performance of vocal numbers.
Jordan Bisch was fine and funny, too, as marriage broker Kecal
, even if he looked too young and lacked the black, booming basso the role likes best.
He even supplements this with "sung dances", by which he means for example the quarrel between Jenik and Marenka, which can be conceived as czardas, Esmeralda's cancan or Jenik's aria Utis se divko [Calm down and trust me] he compares to a sousedska (a type of dance), and Kecal
's duet with Jenik to a beseda (another type of dance).
Versatile and a quick learner, he did roles such as Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, Kecal
in The Bartered Bride and Prince Gremin in Eugene Onegin, always in Czech.
A certain over-acting is evident in some roles, including Kecal
as played by the important Wagnerian bass, now dead, Karel Ridderbusch, but overall the opera is presented realistically and credible, including the witty scenes by the comic players--their principal sung by the then 73-year-old baritone Erich Kunz.
Trevor Vandenbussche handled the acting assignment of the matchmaker Kecal
's role with panache.
While for Eduard Haken, Mumlal was the same kind of challenge as Kecal
in The Bartered Bride.
Sung convincingly in Czech, the production boasted a strong supporting cast (John Avey and Gaynor Jones as the parents Krusina and Ludmilla; Sonya Gosse and Thomas Goertz as the parents Hata and Micha), with Dean Peterson offering a particularly valuable reminder that Kecal
, the marriage broker, need not be portrayed vocally as a study in bluster.