Smetana, Bedřich – Die Teufelswand. A comic-romantic opera (Vocal score with Czech libretto)
For more information about the piece read the preface of the full score:
The operas of Bedrich Smetana (1824-84) remain of interest for the varied tone and subject matter that is unique to each of them. As much as it is possible to group them, each opera must, by necessity, be understood on its own terms. With such a mature work as Certova Stena (The Devil’s Wall), which Smetana composed in 1882, the thirteenth-century setting in Bohemia is the framework for a story of unrequited and – to a degree, unexpected – love, which is, in turn, a kind of fable about humanity resisting not only the temptations, but surviving the foolish things that humans do. It is a late work which some regard as one of Smetana’s finest contributions to the genre. While performances of Certova Stena outside of Eastern Europe are infrequent, it is an opera that nevertheless deserves attention.
Composed between 1879 and 1882, Smetana worked with a libretto by Eliska Krásnohorská, who had written the texts for his two previous operas, Hubika (The Kiss), composed between 1875–76) and Tajemství (The Secret), which followed in 1877–78. Krásnohorská’s story resembles Wedig’s libretto for the earlier opera Dalibor, since like him, she was able to create a narrative around a single historic fact. While the execution of the historic Dalibor is the basis for the earlier work, the latter one has its origins in a rock formation that is supposed to be the remains of a wall the devil built to dam the Vltava river and thus drown the residents of a nearby town. The boulders are held to be all that remains of the wall that was destroyed, and this foreshadows the dénouement of Smetana’s opera that evokes that same rock formation. (The name of the river may be familiar to those who know Smetana’s tone poem Ma vlast, since the composer devoted an entire section entitled “Vltava” to it.)
The narrative of Certova Stena centers on the character Vok Vitkovic, the Lord of Rose and a prominent leader in Bohemia, who had been rejected earlier in his life by the Countess of S auenburk, and has never married. At the opening of the opera, the knight Jarek, one of Vok’s retainers, swears that he will not wed his beloved Katus ka, until his sovereign, Lord Vok, is happily married. The devil Rarach, disguised as the abbot Benes overhears Jarek’s vow and suggests that Vok should wed Katus ka. Since she still loves Jarek, Katus ka also refuses Vok, who suddenly finds himself the ward of the Hedvika, the orphan daughter of the Countess of S auenburk. In Hedvika, Vok finds a visual reminder of his earlier love, yet unlike the Countess, the daughter was affectionate to Vok. Nevertheless, at this point Vok cannot consider taking Hedvika as his wife, since she seems essentially as a kind of daughter to him. …
preface of the full score / Vorwort zur Partitur > HERE