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Photo: Ingebourg Sello

Martinu, Bohuslav

The Marriage (1952)

Duration: 61 minutes
Comic opera in two acts

Libretto by the composer, after the play by Nikolai Gogol (E,G,Cz)

Major roles: S,M,A,T,Bar; minor roles: 2T,2B,2speakers 1.picc.2.2.2- Reduced scoring by Udo Zimmermann and Rene Hirschfeld (1989): 2.1(=corA).1(=bcl).1(=dbn)- pft-strings(
Abbreviations (PDF)

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere
NBC TV Opera Theater, New York, New York
Peter Herman Adler, director
Conductor: Guido Cantelli
Company: NBC TV Opera Theater

World stage premiere
Conductor: Horst Stein
Company: Hamburg State Opera

World premiere of version
Opera Bonn, Werkstattbuhne
Behnke, Strauch, Szirmay, Wood
Conductor: Udo Zimmerman
Company: Beethovenhalle Orchestra


PODKOLYOSIN, a government officialBaritone
STEPAN, his servantSpoken role
FYOKLA IVANOVNA, a professional matchmakerMezzo-Soprano
KOCHKARYOV, Podkolyosin's friendTenor
AGAFYA, daughter of a merchantSoprano
ARINA, her auntContralto
DUNYASHKA, their maidSpoken role
IVAN, a government officialBass
ANUCHKIN, a retired army officerTenor
ZHEVAKIN, a retired naval officerTenor

Time and Place
St Petersburg, early 19th century


The setting is St Petersburg in the early part of the nineteenth century. Podkolyosin, a government official and bachelor, is contemplating marriage, and has engaged the marriage broker Fyokla to locate a suitable bride. She tells him about Agafya, a woman of 29. He cannot make up his mind. His friend Kochkaryov rushes in, wheedles the information about the prospective bride out of Fyokla, and decides to take over from her. He presses upon his friend the positive aspects of marriage. They set off for Agafya's house. She meanwhile awaits prospective suitors. Fyokla has organised three apart from Podkolyosin: Ivan (another government official), Anuchkin and Zhevakin (retired army and naval officers respectively). They are introduced, all somewhat unprepossessing. Kochkaryov arrives with Podkolyosin, who remains entirely silent throughout. Agafya retires in confusion and dismisses the suitors. Kochkaryov persuades Podkolyosin to marry her. In the second act Agafya rejects three of her suitors, two of whom seem neither surprised nor disappointed, though Kochkaryov disingenuously offers to forward Zhevakin's suit if he goes home. Instead, Kochkaryov carries on his matchmaking between Agafya and Podkolyosin by praising each of them to the other. Left alone, they make small talk, then Podkolyosin suddenly leaves. Agafya has, however, decided to marry him. Kochkaryov pushes Podkolyosin through the door to propose. He fails to do so, so his friend does it for him. He is accepted. He decides their wedding must be immediate, and Agafya goes off to dress. Kochkaryov leaves, and Podkolyosin changes his mind and escapes through a window. Back in his room, his servant announces that his tailcoat is finished. Podkolyosin waves him away.


Contemporary, Ethics, History, Magic/Mystery, Literary

Recommended Recording
Vladimir Bauer, Josef Stefl, Brno Janácek Opera Orchestra, Václav Nosek
Supraphon SU33792

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