Libretto by the composer, after a play by Vaclav Klicpera (Cz,E,F,G)
Czech Radio, Prague
Conductor: Otakar Jeremias
Company: Czech Radio
World stage premiere
Hunter College, New York, New York
Conductor: Carl Bamberger
Company: Hunter College
|POPELKA, the village beauty
|SYKOS, a fisherman, her fiance
|BEDRON, a hops-grower
|EVA, his wife
Time and Place
First half of the 19th Century. A bridge over a river.
The action takes place on a bridge across a river separating two opposing armies during the first half of the nineteenth century. Josephine, who has been to the battlefield and buried the headless corpse of her brother, is allowed to pass by the enemy sentry who, however, keeps the slip of paper from his commanding officer. The sentry on her own side refuses her request to pass, and she is forced to remain on the bridge. The brewer from her village is allowed on to the bridge by his own side, then refused exit at the other. Both are now stuck, and the brewer engages Josephine in some mild flirtation. Next her fiancé Johnny turns up, and charges Josephine with unfaithfulness. The Brewer's wife Eva arrives and is drawn into the argument. Finally the schoolmaster comes along, deeply concerned about the solution to a riddle set him by Colonel Ladinsky, an officer on the friendly side: a deer is in a field surrounded by a wall too high and steep to jump or climb. How does it get out? The riddle reflects, of course, the characters' predicament, since neither of the sentries at either side of the bridge will allow them to pass. As the sounds of battle are heard offstage, the two couples make peace with one another. Then victory is announced – their own side has won. Officer Ladinsky arrives and tells Josephine her brother is alive – she buried someone else's body. He also tells them the solution of the riddle – the deer does not escape. All laugh and celebrate victory.