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<<<  <<  -- 3 --  Rex Harley    SUSTAINED INTENSITY

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The human characters were no less impressive, Paul Keohone's morose forester anchoring the evening and providing the perfect foil, vocally and in his personality, for the vixen. His drinking companions too -- the Parson (Wynn Pencarreg) and Schoolmaster (Andrew Rees) gave strong performances, lifting their characters neatly out of the realm of mere caricature. Indeed there wasn't a single weak vocal performance, only varying degrees of strength and subtlety; qualities which applied in spades to Mark Saberton's poacher and which made the scene leading to the vixen's death the most powerful and affecting of the evening.

Ella Kirkpatrick as the Vixen and Paul Keohone as the Forester. Photo © 2008 Michael Dyer
Ella Kirkpatrick as the Vixen and Paul Keohone as the Forester. Photo © 2008 Michael Dyer

As John Tyrell has observed elsewhere: 'The juxtaposition of old age with spring and its renewal of life is one of the major themes of the opera,' most obviously evidenced in the frequent presence of children on stage, as fox cubs, frogs and other denizens of the woods. And the ten young people involved in this production gave confident and well-judged performances which can only enhance Longborough's reputation for its involvement in educational initiatives.

Paul Keohone as the Forester. Photo © 2008 Michael Dyer
Paul Keohone as the Forester. Photo © 2008 Michael Dyer

All in all then, a fine performance and if, perhaps, a qualified triumph, a triumph nonetheless.

Copyright © 3 July 2008 Rex Harley, Cardiff UK

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Rex Harley reviewed the 27 June 2008 performance of Janácek's The Cunning Little Vixen at Longborough Festival Opera, Gloucestershire, UK. There are two remaining performances of this opera, this Friday 4 July and Saturday 5 July 2008 (with free tickets for children at the Friday evening performance). Details of these and the other Longborough productions (The Coronation of Poppea, Das Rheingold and La Traviata from Longborough Festival Opera.

Read Wilfrid Mellers on The Cunning Little Vixen (at Opera North) and Rex Harley's article about Welsh National Opera's 2002 revival of The Cunning Little Vixen.

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