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Because he was constantly working as a teacher, writer, choirmaster and organist, Janácek needed nearly ten years to write his third opera. Even though he had the rights to this libretto, he had trouble getting the new piece on stage. Some years before, he had written a scathing review of Zenichove ('The Bridegrooms'), a lyric comedy by Karel Kovarovic who was in charge of opera at the Prague National Theatre. Kovarovic made sure Janácek's new opera was not premièred there.

Karita Mattila (Jenufa) and Elisabeth Bishop (Grandmother Buryja) in Janácek's 'Jenufa' at Los Angeles Opera. Photo © 2007 Robert Millard
Karita Mattila (Jenufa) and Elisabeth Bishop (Grandmother Buryja) in Janácek's 'Jenufa' at Los Angeles Opera. Photo © 2007 Robert Millard

In 1904, Jenufa was first performed at the largest theatre in Brno. Afterwards, the composer revised the score several times before its publication in 1908. The work was not seen in Prague until 1916 and then it was performed in a version orchestrated by the composer's nemesis, Kovarovic. That version was the one usually heard, until conductor Sir Charles Mackerras and musicologist John Tyrell edited the Brno version which uses Janacek's own orchestration.

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Copyright © 14 October 2007 Maria Nockin, Arizona USA

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