Grange Park Opera: Jenůfa

Leoš Janáček: Jenůfa
Grange Park Opera, BBC Concert Orchestra, William Lacey
Theatre in the Woods, West Horsley Place. 11 June 2017

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Not for the first time in recent years, an opera company has planned, designed, funded and constructed a brand new opera house having been required, for various reasons, to move from the original home. In the most recent case of Grange Park Opera, the background to the move from their founding home at The Grange, Hampshire, was not without controversy, and the new opera house is not quite finished, or, indeed, fully funded. But nonetheless they managed to put on an impressive indication of what will be the new home for the next 99 years, the Theatre in the Woods, hidden away behind the massive medieval pile of West Horsley Place (pictured), rather unexpectedly inherited by former television personality and writer, Bamber Gascoigne, from his Duchess Great Aunt. Continue reading

Janáček: Jenůfa

Janáček: Jenůfa
Czech Philharmonic & Choir of Brno, Jirí Bélohlávek
Royal Festival Hall. 16 April 2016

As part of their International Orchestra Series, the Royal Festival Hall welcomed the Czech Philharmonic and their conductor Jirí Bélohlávek for a concert performance of Leoš Janáček’s opera Jenůfa, first performed in Brno 1904. It is known in Czech as Její pastorkyňa, “Her Stepdaughter”, the name of the book upon which it is based. It is the stepmother, Kostelnička Buryjovka who is the focus of the story, although the tragic figure of the story is the hapless Jenůfa. Kostelnička has a frequently manipulative hold on the complex system of family, friends and villagers that the opera explores, not least on her stepdaughter, Jenůfa, who is in love with, and secretly pregnant by, her cousin Števa Buryja, the frequently drunken saw-mill owner. Števa’s half-brother, Laca has loved Jenůfa since childhood and is insanely jealous of his half-brother who appears to have everything he lacks, including the girls. When his clumsy attempt at a kiss is repelled, he slashes Jenůfa’s face witha blunt knife, disfiguring her. Continue reading