The Cunning Little Vixen

Staged in Czech with Czech and English surtitles.

 

Premiere 17th November 2018 in the Janáček Theatre

 

Nature has inscribed a circle around me which I cannot leave, so I sit within and learn to love life.
No opera is so connected with Brno and its surroundings as Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen, and so the new production, which ceremonially opens the 6th year of the festival, will be the work of the National Theatre Brno’s Janáček Opera. For the first time one of the best Czech directors, Jiří Heřman, is entering the world of Janáček’s operas. Each of Janáček’s operas is original and the Vixen is no different, with human and animal lives interwoven on stage. It is lyrical and melodic, sparkling with humour, kind and with a little of Janáček’s prickliness at the same time and and taking on the earthiness and humane philosophy of life of the eternal cycle of life. At the beginning of the story about the cunning vixen was the decision by the Brno editors of the Lidove noviny newspaper to provide their readers with cartoons with humorous texts. The Janáček household were regular readers of Lidový noviny and the drawn stories caught the composer’s interest, but from the original chapters of the series he chose only ten. Těsnohlídek’s tale ends with the wedding of Bystrouška and Zlatohřbítek. However Janáček resolved to make a significant change compared to the original draft and allowed the main character to die, since as a true dramatist he felt the need for a catharsis.

 

Synopsis

 

Act 1

In the forest, the animals and insects are playing and dancing. The Forester enters and lies down against a tree for a nap. A curious Vixen Cub (usually sung by a young girl), inquisitively chases a frog right into the lap of the surprised forester who forcibly takes the vixen home as a pet. Time passes (in the form of an orchestral interlude) and we see the Vixen, now grown up into a young adult (and sung by a soprano), tied up in the forester's yard with the conservative old dachshund. Fed up with life in confinement, the vixen chews through her rope, attacks the Cock and Chocholka the hen, kills the other chickens, jumps over the fence and runs off to freedom.

 

Act 2

The vixen takes over a badger's home and kicks him out. In the inn, the pastor, the forester, and the schoolmaster drink and talk about their mutual infatuation with the gypsy girl Terynka. The drunken schoolmaster leaves the inn and mistakes a sunflower behind which the vixen is hiding for Terynka and confesses his devotion to her. The forester, also on his way home, sees the vixen and fires two shots at her, sending her running. Later, the vixen, coming into her womanhood, meets a charming boy fox, and they retire to the badger's home. An unexpected pregnancy and a forest full of gossipy creatures necessitates their marriage, which rounds out the act.

 

Act 3

The poacher Harasta is engaged to Terynka and is out hunting in preparation for their marriage. He sets a fox trap, which the numerous fox and vixen cubs mock. Harasta, watching from a distance, shoots and kills the vixen, sending her children running. At Harasta's wedding, the forester sees the vixen's fur, which Harasta gave to Terynka as a wedding present, and flees to the forest to reflect. He returns to the place where he met the vixen, and sits at the tree grieving the loss of both the vixen and Terynka. His grief grows until, just as in the beginning of the opera, a frog unexpectedly jumps in his lap, the grandson of the one who did so in act one. This reassurance of the cycle of death leading to new life gives his heart a deep peace.

Program and cast

Buy tickets
June 2019

Janáček Theatre

Janáček Theatre is a theatre situated in the city of Brno, Czech Republic. It is a part of the National Theatre in Brno. It was built from 1960 to 1965, and opened in October 1965. During its existence, the theatre has premiered around 20 operas and ballet performances.

 

History

 

The building of Janáček Theatre, the youngest of the buildings of National Theatre in Brno, was planned from the early 20th century. From 1910 to 1957, seven architectural competitions were held to find the best design and project of the building. Around 150 architects participated in the competitions, among them several notable exponents of Czech arts and architecture: Bohuslav Fuchs, Josef Gočár, Vlastislav Hofman, Josef Chochol, Pavel Janák, Jan Kotěra and others. The proposed designs span a wide range of architectural styles documenting the history and development of the Czech architecture in the first half of the 20th century. The styles include historicism, Art Nouveau, Cubism, modernism, Functionalism, Socialist realism and classicising Neofunctionalism.

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