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The Cunning Little VixenConcert performance

Rudolfinum: Dvořák HallAlšovo nábřeží 12, Prague, Central Bohemian Region, Praha 1, Czech Republic
Dates/times in Prague time zone
Wednesday 25 November 202019:30
Thursday 26 November 202019:30
Friday 27 November 202019:30
Performers
Sir John Eliot GardinerConductor
Jan MartiníkBassForester
Elena TsallagovaSopranoVixen (Bystrouška)
Kateřina KněžíkováSopranoFox (Zlatohřbítek)
Jarmila BalážováMezzo-sopranoLapák
Boris PrýglBass-baritoneBadger
Czech Philharmonic
Prague Philharmonic Choir
Lukáš VasilekChoirmaster / chorus director
Prague Philharmonic Children's Choir
Jiří ChválaChoirmaster / chorus director

“Once I was reading – there happened to be a picture of Bystrouška (the vixen Little Sharp Ears) walking hand in hand with Zlatohřbítek (Gold-Spur) and carrying a flower. The way they were strutting about seemed terribly funny to me. I didn’t think anyone could hear me laughing out loud. The lady of the house was not at home just then and the gentleman was in his study. But suddenly he appeared at the kitchen door: ‘If you please, woman, what are you laughing at?’ ‘Well, it’s the Vixen here, sir.’ ‘What Vixen?’ ‘You don’t read it? It’s a reporter from [the Brno newspaper] Lidové noviny, Mr. Těsnohlídek, who wrote it.’ I handed him the newspaper and he looked at the picture, read a bit, started smiling and I said to him: ‘Sir, you know quite well how animals are always talking to each other, how you’re always notating birdsong – Lord, what an opera that would make!’ And he said nothing. He just started watching for each continuation of the Vixen’s story.”

Thus began the story of one of the world’s most famous twentieth century operas, as described by the Janáček family’s housekeeper Marie Stejskalová in 1920. Janáček did not begin work on the opera until two years later, as he wrote to his friend Kamila Stösslová: “I’m now working on the girls’ novel ‘Liška Bystrouška’. Now I have no time to think about myself. There has never been a year when I worked as hard mentally as this year.” Janáček had to adapt Rudolf Těsnohlídek’s popular serial with illustrations by Stanislav Lolek into the form of an opera libretto, which he then filled with beautiful musical content, bringing together the worlds of nature and of human fates. Janáček’s musical world is so evocative that even without the set and costumes, it takes you into forests, the Beskid Mountains countryside, or wherever else you would want to experience one of the loveliest stories about life that has ever been made into an opera.

© Sim Canetty-Clarke
© Sim Canetty-Clarke
November 2020
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