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Janáček: The Cunning Little Vixen [Glyndebourne Festival] Blu-ray Review

janacek-cunning-little-vixen-glyndebourne-blu-ray-cover

 

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(The below TheaterByte screen captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray Disc and losslessly compressed in the PNG format. There should be no loss of picture quality with this format. All screen captures should be regarded only as an approximation of the full capabilities of the Blu-ray format.

The Performance

[Rating:4/5]

title

For those operagoers more familiar with the major Janacek operas like Jenufa, The Makropolous Affair, and Kat’a Kabanova, this fanciful allegory, The Cunning Little Vixen, will come as a pleasant surprise.

The opera opens in the forest on a hot summer’s day where the forester (Sergei Leiferkus) is napping. On awakening, he snares the Vixen (Lucy Crowe) and brings her home only to have her get into one scrap after another. She disrupts the hen house by interfering with the Cockerel (Kristy Stokes) and the hens, and escapes from the forester.

On returning to the forest, the Vixen takes away the Badger’s (Mischa Schelomianski) nest. Meanwhile the Forester, the School Mater (Adrian Thompson) and the Priest (Mischa Schelomianski) are having a discussion over drinks. After they leave, the Forester again encounters the Vixen but his shot misses. Later the Vixen meets the Fox (Emma Bell), they fall in love, are married and eventually reproduce.

The Forester now decides to trap the Vixen. However, the poacher Harasta (William Dazey) finds her first and after her little foxes rob his basket, he accidentally shoots and kills the Vixen. Once more, the Forester sets off to find his prey but he falls asleep and dreams of his old forest only to find that all has changed on awakening.

set

This delightful little opera is a 2012 Glyndebourne Festival production under its expert music director, Vladimir Jurowski. Casting goes from strength to strength and it was a pleasure to see baritone Leiferkus, at age 65,  taking on a role so different from his usual dramatic repertory.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

vix2

The fantasy aspects of this production, so well conceived by director Melly Still, choreographer Maxine Doyle, and set designer Tom Pye, are beautifully captured by the videographers. The clever set, while minimal in design, works perfectly to support the play. Colors are gorgeous and detail superb.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

fox

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is spacious and detailed with excellent capture of the voices and orchestra. The 2.0 version is also quite good and atmospheric.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

cow

There is an interesting documentary on the making of this production from the perspective of the principal singers, conductor, director, and choreographer. The Cunning Little Vixen is an opera that is not frequently done outside of its native Czechoslovakia, so this extra material is extremely welcome. A nice booklet accompanies this set and has more background material and synopsis.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

foxes

The Cunning Little Vixen works on many levels to provide an enjoyable watch. This is a children’s story that is not really a children’s story (the hens’ costumes are close to being “R” rated) but rather an adult take on the foibles of humans and their disregard for the beauties of nature. While this situation is somewhat rectified at the opera’s conclusion, Janáček, as both composer and librettist, leaves us with some concern for the future. This opera has had a very good run on the previously issued DVDs, but this Blu-ray premiere shows us in both sight and sound what a delightful work this really is. Most singers will avow that Czech is a difficult language to negotiate, but that was not obvious from what we hear in this performance. For one and one half hours, park your preconceptions about 20th century opera, and take a nice trip back to fairy tales with a modern but mellifluous musical idiom.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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hens

tree

gnomes

bird

four

 

 

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00BMTTXZQ[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product region=”ca” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-20″]B00BMTTXZQ[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B00BMTTXZQ[/amazon-product]

Purchase on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

 

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