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The Secret is Bedřich Smetana’s seventh and penultimate opera. It is also the second to emerge from the composer’s collaboration with the librettist Eliška Krásnohorská. Completed in June 1877, the piece received its premiere the following year at the Royal Provincial Czech Theatre in Prague. The National Theatre first staged the opera on 12 May 1885, on the first anniversary of Smetana’s death. Yet it only attained wide popularity after the arrival of conductor Karel Kovařovic as head of the opera company, who was fully aware of the qualities of this mature Smetana work.


  • Bedřich Smetana: The Secret


  • Prague National Theatre Orchestra
  • Robert Jindra - conductor
  • Ondřej Havelka - director
24 5 2024
Friday 19.00

Krásnohorská provided Smetana with a wonderful libretto, whose themes might bring to mind William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet or the Czech author Ladislav Stroupežnický’s play Naše furianty (Our Swaggerers), written subsequently. The story is set in a small Czech town and tells of a feud between the families of the councillors Malina and Kalina who, for years, have jostled for social superiority. Kalina strives to prove that he is not as poor as he was two decades previously, when Malina thwarted his attempts to marry his sister Róza. Despite the hostility between their fathers, Malina’s daughter Blaženka and Kalina’s son Vít love one another. All disputes are ultimately settled after the discovery of an old note left by Friar Barnabáš, which leads Kalina to a treasure trove. But are piles of gold the most precious thing to be found?

Smetana’s The Secret has been undertaken by Ondřej Havelka, a stage director with a fine sense of music theatre and humour, noted for his visually captivating storytelling. The production will be conducted by Robert Jindra, Music Director of the National Theatre Opera. The production is part of the celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of Bedřich Smetana’s birth.