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Marital hell – Tim Ashley's opera guide

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 08 January 2015

Bluebeard’s Castle; wood engraving by Gustave Doré, public domain

Alban Berg: Wozzeck (c) Universal EditionAll five operas, significantly perhaps, were first performed within a relatively short period – 1887 to 1925 – when the nature of marriage as an institution was under scrutiny right across the arts: think of the plays of Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov and Shaw, and the fiction of Henry James, Proust and DH Lawrence. (Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 6.1.2015)

In his final opera guide, Tim Ashley of The Guardian picked five operas that explore marital hell. Three of these picks are UE works: Leoš Janáček’s Katya Kabanova, Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Alban Berg’s Wozzeck.

Read the full article on The Guardian.

Chéreau’s From the House of the Dead in Berlin

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 04 December 2014

One year after the death of director Patrice Chéreau, his critically acclaimed staging of From the House of the Dead will be performed at the Staatsoper im Schiller Theater in Berlin.

When his production was performed in 2009 at the MET, critics were thrilled:

“Critics aren't supposed to use the word ‘perfect.’ It sounds excessive and insincere, because, after all, nothing in life or art is absolute. But when confronted with a production of such overwhelming excellence as From the House of the Dead at the Met, the urge to use the P-word is just about irresistible.” (The New York Post, 16 November 2009)

“Leoš Janáček’s From the House of the Dead, is a total triumph, perhaps one of the finest things that the Met has ever done.” (The New Yorker, 30 November 2009)

Watch the Staatsoper Berlin’s trailer on YouTube:

Leoš Janáček: From the House of the Dead
Opera in 3 acts | 100'
critical-practical version (by Sir Charles Mackerras and John Tyrrell)
7.12.2014, Staatsoper im Schiller Theater, Berlin; Tom Fox, Pavlo Hunka, Eric Stoklossa, Stefan Margita, Peter Straka, Vladimir Chmelo, Jiri Sulzenko, Heinz Zednik, Ladislav Elgr, Ján Galla, et al.; Staatsopernchor; Staatskapelle Berlin, cond. Simon Rattle
Further performances: 10, 13, 17 and 21.12.2014

Janáček Brno: Opera Europa Conference Live

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 20 November 2014

For the first time in the history of Opera Europa, selected lectures of the conference will be streamed online, which was made possible thanks to the support of the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno.

Via Sli.do, viewers will be able to ask lecturers questions in real time online, comment on their lectures and vote on questions which they’d like to see answered. To join in with the discussion just open the webpage www.sli.do click on the “join event icon, put in the code for the event – OEBrno2014 and then write questions or vote for them to be answered.

Find the full programme of the conference on the website of Opera Europe. Topics include Staging Janáček Today, Czech Perspectives on Janáček and a discussion with Jamu Students.

Happy 90th Birthday Bystrouška!

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 06 November 2014

Janáček Brno Festival 2014

It’s been exactly 90 years since Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen was performed for the very first time at the Brno City Theatre on 6 November 1924.

For this occasion the Moravské zemské muzeum is hosting an exhibition that is part of the Janáček Brno Festival 2014, which celebrates the composer’s 160th birthday.

From the website of the museum:

The Cunning Little Vixen, creative commons, Tibor Kádek“The exhibition in the lobby of the Janáček Theatre will reflect the 90th anniversary of the first staging of the opera The Cunning Litte Vixen by Leoš Janáček.  One of the most performed operas of the 20th century was first presented on November 6, 1924 in Brno City Theatre in an excellent staging carried out by the artist Eduard Milén, director Ota Zítek and conductor František Neumann. The prepared exhibition will present this staging together with the genesis of the opera. On display will be period photographs and documents, copies of Milén´s costumes as well a model of the original stage, facsimile of Těsnohlídek´s manuscript of the novel, considered as lost for a long time, or illustrations by Stanislav Lolek that stood at the cradle of this music work.”

View the first act of Jirí Zahrádka’s revised score of The Cunning Little Vixen.

Find out more about the festivities on the website of the Moravian Museum.

View the festival’s trailer on YouTube:

Daniel Slater introduces The Cunning Little Vixen

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 08 July 2014

Watch an interview of director Daniel Slater introducing Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen:

Slater’s critically acclaimed production of the Vixen will be performed today and on 12 July at the Garsington Opera, Stokenchurch.

Bystrouška in Hukvaldy

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 03 July 2014

Leoš Janáček, Monument of The Cunning Little Vixen in Hukvaldy (c) Kazuo Ikeda, crative commonsWhat he did, what he did not do – no law governed him except his persona. His music, his ideology – both are completely inaccessible if one does not find them spellbinding. Of course they enrapture the spellbound by luring them into an ocean of beauty with its own laws, where a slow, cautious approach is absolutely forbidden and impossible. (Max Brod on Leoš Janáček)

Today 160 years ago Leoš Janáček was born Hukvaldy, Moravia. 

View the study score of the first act of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen in the newly revised edition by Jirí Zahrádka.

The Cunning Little Vixen in Vienna and Stokenchurch

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 25 June 2014

 The Cunning Little Vixen, Wiener Staatsoper

Franz Welser-Möst and the Staatsopernorchester turn the instrumental passages into paintings of dazzling intensity. (Ljubisa Tosic, Der Standard, 20.06.2014)

This time, it’s the animals that are telling me a story about humanity, nature, the forest, life and death. (Interview with Otto Schenk, Kurier, 15.06.2014)

You can almost smell the forest. (Wilhelm Sinkovicz, Die Presse, 19.06.2014)

The Cunning Little Vixen, Garsington Opera

Emerging from the staged woodland of designer Robert Innes Hopkins into the leafy twilight with the Forester's transcendent meditation on nature still resounding in the ears has to be the most magical operatic experience of my year. (Katherine Cooper, WhatsOnStage, 24.06.2014)

Claire Booth exceeds even high expectations as a knockout Vixen in this superb rendering of Janáček’s opera (Guy Dammann, The Guardian, 23.06.2014)

Janáček would have approved. (Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 23.06.2014)

If you don’t know Janáček’s music, then this admirably clear-cut, beautifully sung production is the ideal place to start […] you’ll want more and more, and you won’t be happy until you get your annual Katya Kabanova and Jenůfa fix. (Melanie Eskenazi, music OMH, 24.06.2014)

The newly revised edition of Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen (edited by Jirí Zahrádka) is running in new productions at the Staatsoper in Vienna and at the Garsington Opera at Wormsley in Stokenchurch at the moment, and the critics’ reviews couldn’t be better. Click the corresponding links to read the full reviews.

The Making of The Cunning Little Vixen: Production Diary #3

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 05 June 2014

The third and final part of the Cleveland Orchestra’s production diary of Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen follows the cast through the rehearsals as the day of the première approaches:

Behind The Opera: The Cunning Little Vixen

The Making of The Cunning Little Vixen: Production Diary #1

The Making of The Cunning Little Vixen: Production Diary #2

Two foxes at the pantheon of opera’s unforgettable couples: The Cunning Little Vixen

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 02 June 2014

I think [Leoš Janáček] has an emotional impact on audiences which is so immediate that that’s what makes him really God in the opera world. (Franz Welser-Möst, The Making of The Cunning Little Vixen: Production Diary #1)

Here is a collection of the amazing reviews of Franz Welser-Möst’s and the Cleveland Orchestra’s semi-staged production of Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen:

To the pantheon of opera’s unforgettable couples, from Mozart’s Figaro and Susanna to Puccini’s Tosca and Cavaradossi, I’d like to add a pair that lies a considerable distance from them: two foxes. (Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times, 23.05.2014)

The capacity audience gave the production an immediate well-deserved standing ovation. Bravos were numerous — as were a few expressions of “Wow.” (Alan Montgomery, Opera News, 17.05.2014)

The Cleveland Orchestra’s digitally enhanced production of Leoš Janáček’s opera, The Cunning Little Vixen, […] is beguiling in concept and brilliant in execution. (Daniel Hathaway, Classical Voice North America, 19.05.2014)

Watch the production diaries of The Cunning Little Vixen #1 and #2 on YouTube.

Symphony guide: Janáček’s Sinfonietta

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 21 May 2014

Leoš Janáček (c) Leoš Janáček Foundation“If you think that a piece that begins and ends with a phalanx of military fanfares, performed by an additional ensemble of 13 brass players - including nine trumpets – can’t possibly be taken seriously as one of the 20th century’s most compelling symphonies, then look away now.”

Tom Service’s latest entry in his symphony guide series takes a closer look at Leoš Janáček’s Sinfonietta.

Read the full text on The Guardian.

The Cunning Little Vixen in Prague

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 20 March 2014

The Cunning Little Vixen (c) National Theatre, Prague // Národní Divadlo
A new production of Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen [Příhody lišky Bystroušky] will première today, 20 March 2014, at the National Theatre in Prague. Janáček’s opera will be performed at the theatre for the first time in the last ten years and is the theatre’s contribution to the Czech Music Year programme.

For more information about the opera and the full cast, visit the National Theatre’s website.

Leoš Janáček: The Cunning Little Vixen
opera in 3 acts | 110'
4 3 3 3 - 4 3 3 1 - timp, perc(2), hp, cel, str
20.03.2014, National Theatre, Prague; Czech National Opera Chorus; Czech National Opera Orchestra, cond. Robert Jindra; Stage Director: Ondřej Havelka

Sarah Lavaud: In the Mists

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 18 March 2014

Sarah Lavaud: Dans les Brumes The French pianist Sarah Lavaud has devoted her first solo CD Dans les Brumes to Leoš Janáček’s most well-known piano pieces together with several late pages characteristic of his mature style.

Lavaud has been described by Jean-Claude Pennetier as “one of those interpreters for whom the rendering of each musical phrase or idea is a vital commitment.”

Dans les Brumes will be released on 19 March on Editions Hortus and includes the eponymous In the Mists, the Sonata IX, On an Overgrown Path, A Recollection and excerpts from Intimate Sketches.

Janáček’s Jenůfa at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 31 January 2014

Janacek: Jenufa, Piano Reduction (c) Universal EditionGeorge Loomis of the New York Times has reviewed Alvis Hermanis’ production of Leoš Janáček’s Jenůfa, which runs at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels until 7 February.

Read the full review on the New York Times.

Find out more about Jenůfa.

Leoš Janáček: Jenůfa
Opera in 3 acts from Moravian peasant life | 120'
3 3 3 3 - 4 2 3 1 - timp, perc(2), bells, hp, str - stage music: hn(2), toy tpt, xyl, bells, str(1 1 1 1 1)
31.01.2014; 02, 04, 05, and 07.02.2014, La Monnaie, Bruxelles; Sally Matthews/Andrea Danková, Charles Workman, Nicky Spence, Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet, Carole Wilson, Ivan Ludlow, Alexander Vassiliev, Mireille Capelle, Hendrickje Van Kerckhove, Beata Morawska, Chloé Briot, Nathalie Van de Voorde, Marta Beretta; Choeur de la Monnaie, Orchestre Symphonique de la Monnaie, cond. Ludovic Morlot

Ivan Hewett of The Telegraph on Mahler and Janáček

Posted by Johannes Feigl on 06 December 2013

Leoš Janáček (c) Leoš Janáček Foundation Gustav Mahler (c) Universal Edition


Ivan Hewett’s Classic 50 Nos. 48 and 49 are by Gustav Mahler and Leoš Janáček respectively. You can read the articles by clicking on the names of the composers.

The Makropulos Affair in Finland

Posted on 31 August 2012

A new production of Janáčeks Makropulos Affair opens in Helsinki tonight. 

See details, cast and photos at the Finnish National Opera website.