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<<  -- 2 --  Rex Harley    PROFOUNDLY LIFE-ENHANCING


His is a celebration of life both flamboyant and at times erotic. The exuberance and unselfconsciousness of his living is a reflection of all the animal life in the opera. Unlike their human counterparts, their lives are not blighted by shame or regret. They are true to their nature, and Nature itself, by instinct not choice; and one of the underlying themes of the human drama seems to be the likelihood of our making the wrong choices, either because we do not trust ourselves, or because we too easily opt for membership of an institution which will provide us with a spurious sense of identity or purpose: the Parson; the Schoolmaster. In the process, we lose one of our greatest gifts, the ability to respond to the world spontaneously.

Juanita Lascarro (as the Vixen) and James Miller-Coburn (as the Dog) in the WNO revival of 'The Cunning Little Vixen'. Photo: Bill Cooper

Part of that spontaneity, of course, is sexual; and in David Pountney's production we are made to face this side of our personalities at nearly every turn. In captivity, the Vixen is subjected to the undignified advances of the Forester's elderly, lachrymose dog, who sniffs around her as she sings of her inexperience in love, despite which he gets short shrift from her, and a bloody nose. Soon after, when she has been tied up for biting one of the Forester's thuggish children, the second ballet interlude shows her thoughts of liberation and coming sexual maturity. Her provocative alter ego, performed beautifully by Rachel Lopez de la Nieta, is, despite the symbolic costume, unmistakably woman. She prances, tumbles and slides over the earth in a dance of intense sensuality which would not be out of place in The Rite of Spring. This blurring of the animal and the human is not gratuitous, but a powerful way of drawing out the underlying parallels inherent in the libretto. This is reinforced further by the way the Vixen herself, in a genuinely poignant moment, awkwardly parodies the dancer's expressions of freedom while chained to the wall of her prison.

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Copyright © 2 June 2002 Rex Harley, Cardiff, UK






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