A Czech Opera after Schiller
A remarkable rediscovery! More than a hundred years passed before Zdeněk Fibich's The Bride of Messina was first seen and heard in Germany, and it was the Magdeburg Theater that had the courage to stage the German premiere of this opera after Friedrich Schiller's famous tragedy in a perfect romantic rendering in the Czech language. The action is just as simple as it is cruelly tragic. The widowed Queen Isabella of Messina hopes to reconcile her two feuding sons Manuel and Cesar in order to prevent an imminent civil war and reveals a long-guarded secret. Defying a prophecy that her daughter would spell the doom of the royal family, she spared the life of this child by the name of Beatrice and had her raised in a convent, her true identity unknown. However, as the dramatist Schiller himself believed, fate cannot be averted. The two brothers fall in love with the beautiful girl, whom they do not recognize as their sister and whose identity is unknown to them. Jealousy breeds new hate, and in the end both brothers perish. Their mother and sister survive and are left alone to cope with their feelings of guilt. Zdeněk Fibich, a composer in Smetana's line of succession, is regarded as the most significant Czech opera composer of the romantic era. In his opera based on Schiller's »tragedy with choruses« he respects the intentions of this dramatic innovator from Germany's classical epoch while combining highly effective choral scenes with compelling role depictions and leitmotivic-psychological interpretation of the characters and the situations in which they find themselves.