A native of Bohemia, Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884) lived at a time when nationalism was sweeping across Europe, influencing politics, literature, and the arts. Considered the father of Czech national music, Smetana’s style relied on folk influences, traditional tunes, and a conscious attempt to convey the Czech spirit. His second opera, The Bartered Bride, opened in 1866 as a disappointment, but after several revisions quickly gained wild and long-lasting popularity. In this opera, a young couple is caught in a storm of misunderstandings and mistaken identity. Just then, the circus comes to town and presents its Dance of the Comedians. This fast-paced folk dance, called skočná, is marked by infectious up-and-down rhythms, exciting contrasts in dynamics and color, and rousing syncopations. Each theme introduces different characters: clowns, dancers, acrobats, and, of course, a dancing bear. Everyone is invited to take part in this boisterous Slavonic dance!
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