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Profoundly life-enhancing

REX HARLEY experiences Janácek's 'The Cunning Little Vixen'
in the current Welsh National Opera revival, on 24 May 2002
at Cardiff New Theatre, conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras


Some years ago, Sir Charles Mackerras wrote of Leos Janácek:

'What drew me to him is the wonderful, dramatic, earthy human, passionate, personal quality in his attitude, not only to his music but towards everything; his pantheistic feeling for nature, for life itself; the extraordinary subjects he chose for his operas, his unique way of setting words, his different interpretations of commonplace everyday speech; in fact, his tremendous creativity, his absolutely original mind.'

A scene from the 2002 Welsh National Opera revival of Janácek's 'The Cunning Little Vixen'. Photo: Bill Cooper

In The Cunning Little Vixen the 'earthy human' and pantheistic collide and are celebrated, and nowhere with more joy than in this long overdue revival. It is over twenty years since this production, these costumes and this set saw the light. From the rise of the curtain, revealing the woodland birds suspended on their large avian rocking-chairs -- (Maria Bjørnson's homage to Peter Brook's famous production of The Dream?) -- we are charmed into a world of magic and colour. The set is a complete patchwork landscape in miniature, which dips and folds in gentle undulations, and turns out to be even more impressive in its use than its appearance: the woodland creatures melt in and out of it; the Dragonfly, danced by Jonathan Poole, swoops sinuously over it in his miniature ballet of life and death, directly after the Gamekeeper's capture of the young vixen.

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Copyright © 2 June 2002 Rex Harley, Cardiff, UK






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