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Robert Tanitch reviews ENO’s The Cunning Little Vixen at the London Coliseum

Leos Janaceks The cunning little fox, which premiered in Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1924, is based on an animated film that appeared in a Brno daily newspaper. There are two worlds: a world of animals and a world of people.

Janacek was a composer who listened to the sounds of nature, birds, trees and bumblebees. The opera, a cycle of life and death, was first performed in English by ENO in 1961.

Jamie Manton’s production, directed by Martyn Brabbins, the first for ENO since David Poutney’s production in 2001, was due to open on Friday February 18 but Storm Eunice prevented it and was pushed back to Sunday.

A forest ranger tracks and captures a fox and brings her home and keeps her as a pet. The fox escapes, kills a rooster and slaughters all of his hens. She meets a fox and they have sex. She becomes pregnant and six cubs are born.

Described by Janacek as ‘a happy affair with a sad ending’, the opera has its lyrical and tense moments and there are strong performances from Sally Matthews as the fox, Lester Lynch as the forester and Ossian Huskinson as the poacher.

Children from Westminster primary schools play wild animals, frogs, animals and insects. They run around like children, often awkwardly, outshining the drably dressed people. The costumes for the rooster (a riot of color) and the dog (a ball of fur) are fantastic. The chicks look like child brides. The designer is Tom Scott.

The stage, initially very open and very big, is very ugly. The scrolls of painted fabric hanging from the flies are interesting to look at. The heavy trucks with logs to sit or climb are rolled across the stage too much. Manton’s production is overloaded

The forester has a hymn to nature, a mouthpiece for 70-year-old Janacek, who enjoyed and recognized the importance of nature. Impressed and enriched by his wonders; although he was, he still didn’t allow himself to get sentimental. The fox is shot by a poacher and dies.

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Robert Tanitch reviews ENO’s The Cunning Little Vixen at the London Coliseum

Source link Robert Tanitch reviews ENO’s The Cunning Little Vixen at the London Coliseum

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