Ljubljana, 5 October 1929 (in Slovenian translation)
Riga, 6 December 1930 (in Latvian translation)
Sofia, 6 November 1931 (in Bulgarian translation)
Metropolitan Opera, New York City, 7 November 1931.
Semperoper, Dresden, 2012, 2014 and 2016
Teatro Massimo di Palermo, Oct. 2014
At the time, the opera, with its use of Czech folk material, enjoyed considerable success, with translations into 17 languages. Since that time, the opera has fallen from the repertory, although in orchestral performances and recordings, the "Polka and Fugue" now together form a concert work that is heard more often than the opera itself.
It has been a week since vanda and Dorota married. The robber Babinsk takes refuge in their farmhouse, and immediately falls for Dorota. Babinsk quickly convinces vanda of the tedium of married life, and persuades him to go off on an adventure. They arrive at the Queen's court, where she is under the power of a wicked Magician. The Queen had made a deal with the Magician where she consented to the death of the Prince, her betrothed, in exchange for a heart of ice (and thus no human feeling) and a diamond scepter, symbolic of her power. vanda plays his bagpipes, which breaks the spell. The Queen then offers herself to vanda in marriage. vanda accepts, kissing her, but then Dorota appears, which angers the Queen. The Queen, her heart now again of ice, has vanda and Dorota imprisoned and vanda condemned to death.
Babinsk helps save vanda by replacing the executioner's axe with a broom. vanda plays his bagpipes again, enchanting the crowd gathered for the execution, and escapes with Dorota. Dorota herself is now angry at vanda and questions his fidelity. vanda retorts that if he ever kissed the Queen, may he go to Hell. Forgetting that he did kiss the Queen, vanda immediately drops through the earth into Hell. Babinsk then tells Dorota that he loves her, but she makes him promise to rescue vanda.
In Hell, the Devil asks vanda to play for him, since he has nothing to do, because no one will play cards with the Devil because he always cheats. vanda at first refuses, but then Babinsk appears and challenges the Devil to a card game. By cheating even more than the Devil, Babinsk wins the game and rescues vanda. (It is at this point that vanda plays the music that forms the famous Fugue.) At the end, vanda and Dorota are reconciled, and Babinsk sorrowfully leaves, in search of new adventures.