Tag Archives: Janaček

Jenufa, English National Opera, March 2024

This opera marks the beginning of Janáček’s personal style, with a series of five operas in the standard repertoire. The ENO production is excellent, set in the grey times of post WW2 communism, and the orchestral performance was outstanding. See my review in The Article.

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The Makropulos Affair, Welsh National Opera, September 2022

A centuries-old lady retains her youth and beauty thanks to an elixir. In Karel Čapek’s story, the Habsburg Emperor Rudolf II — notorious for his patronage of the occult — asked his alchemists to create a potion that would confer an additional 300 years of life. He was told to try it out on his sixteen …

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The Excursions of Mr Brouček, Grange Park Opera, June 2022

Janáček pokes fun at philistines and anticipates Woke in this remarkable staging. Mr Brouček, a Czech Everyman, likes his beer, but his inebriation leads him on two imaginary excursions, one to the Moon among what we now call the Wokerati, and one to the early fifteenth century when Protestantism began in Prague. See my review …

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Jenufa, Welsh National Opera, March 2022

Janaček’s music elevates this tragic to a gripping intensity, given terrific effect under the baton of WNO’s music director Tomaš Hanus, who is Czech, and in view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine he spoke to the audience before the performance  saying, “Let’s play today for humanity”. The orchestra responded with huge emotion and energy, …

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Cunning Little Vixen, English National Opera, February 2022

Wonderful energy from the children, as various animals and woodland mushrooms, gave colour to an otherwise dull production, set in a wood yard. Some excellent singing from the Vixen, the Fox, and the humans who live in a far more circumscribed world than the animals. My review in The Article.

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Jenufa, Royal Opera, September 2021

This new production by Claus Guth abstracts the story from its village setting, draws you in, and by Act 3 packs a terrific emotional punch under the excellent baton of Henrik Nánási. In the earlier production last seen twenty years ago, Karita Mattila was Jenufa herself but is now a superb Kostelnička, with Asmik Grigorian …

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Katya Kabanova, Glyndebourne, May 2021

The opening night of Glyndebourne’s season featured a vibrant production of Janaček’s dramatic opera Katya Kabanova with the wonderful Czech soprano Kateřina Kněžíková in the title role. A superb performance under the baton of Robin Ticciati in a new production by Damiano Michieletto. My review in The Article.

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Katya Kabanova, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, February 2019

Janaček’s emotionally intense opera has been given an illuminating new production by Richard Jones, with American soprano Amanda Majeski using her vocal power and wonderful purity of tone to give a beautifully sensitive and sympathetic performance in the title role. Superb conducting by Edward Gardner — see my five-star review in The Article.

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From the House of the Dead, Royal Opera, ROH, Covent Garden, March 2018

Is the Royal Opera losing the plot? The recent staging of Carmen included narrative not in the libretto, and was very badly received. Now they have done it again. Janáček’s final opera on Dostoyevsky’s novel about convicts in a Siberian prison camp is a marvellous work. The composer was a genius at reworking theatrical and …

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From the House of the Dead, Welsh National Opera, WNO, Cardiff, October 2017

Hugely powerful and strangely life affirming. Janáček’s opera on Dostoyevsky’s novel about convicts in a Siberian prison camp might seem unpromising material, but the composer was a master at turning stories into dramatic masterpieces and this — his final opera — is extraordinary. Composed on hand written staves that did not always extend to a …

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Jenufa, Grange Park Opera, Theatre in the Woods, GPO, June 2017

Czech verismo with attendant Central European melancholy, this carries quite a punch. There are four principal characters, Jenufa who is pregnant by Števa, her step-mother the Kostelnička (church sexton), and Števa’s half-brother Laca who adores Jenufa, but jealously cuts her face, disfiguring her. She adores Števa but he rejects her, and Laca is horrified by …

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Jenufa, English National Opera, ENO, London Coliseum, June 2016

This is exactly what the ENO should be doing, presenting a straightforward staging with fine singers and a conductor capable of fully realising the drama. Mark Wigglesworth, who resigned as music director three months ago, allowed Janáček’s score to express the emotional power it embodies and the second act, where the drama makes its turning …

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Katja Kabanova, Staatsoper Berlin, Schiller Theater, Berlin, January 2014

At the end of this post-apocalyptic vision of the opera, when Katya sings how quiet and beautiful everything is she is standing by a bathtub. Suddenly as the men sing that a woman has thrown herself into the water, she gets into the tub, slits her wrists and dies. The singers look out at the …

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Cunning Little Vixen, WNO, Cardiff, February 2013

This opera pits the timeless amorality of the natural world against the emotions and melancholy of human beings. The former is represented by the Vixen, her family, and other forest animals, the latter by Forester, Schoolmaster, Priest and Poacher. In the original story by Rudolf Těsnohlídek, based on drawings by Stanislav Lolek, the Vixen lives …

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The Cunning Little Vixen, Glyndebourne, May 2012

Standing outside in the grounds of Glyndebourne facing the ha-ha near the new statues of hunting dogs, one looks to the left and sees a green hill just like the one on stage; and in front of the stage hill is a tree made of pieces of wood. The stage tree lends an air of …

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The Makropulos Case, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, September 2010

Emilia Marty, Ellian MacGregor, Eugenia Montez, Elsa Müller, Ekatěrina Myškin, all E.M., just like her original name Elina Makropulos. This beautiful woman, born in Crete to Hieronymos Makropulos, is now 339 years old but has not aged since she was 39.

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The Cunning Little Vixen, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, March 2010

But this is an opera to be seen as well as heard, and William Dudley’s designs, along with the movement directed by Stuart Hopps, have a wonderful charm. Magical realism is …

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Katya Kabanova, English National Opera, ENO at the London Coliseum, March 2010

… this dark and theatrically powerful opera is a must-see, and you would have to go a long way to find better singing or conducting — they were both virtually unbeatable.

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Katya Kabanova, Holland Park Opera, August 2009

This performance was a team effort, led with great emotional sensitivity by Stuart Stratford in the orchestra pit.

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