The Cunning Little Vixen
This is perhaps the only opera to be inspired by a newspaper cartoon strip. Every morning, Janáček would catch up with the latest exploits of the mischievous vixen Bystrouška. He became such a dedicated follower of her adventres that he responded with an outpouring of music, rich in both humour and humanity, which evokes the wooded rolling hills of the composer’s homeland of Moravia.
Janáček’s vision immeasurably deepens the comic strip’s depiction of rural life. The Vixen encounters humans, of whom she learns to be extremely wary. She ignores the well-meant advice of a mournful dog and does exactly what you might expect when she is confronted by a bunch of hysterical chickens. She cheekily evicts a badger from his home and settles in herself. Eventually, she falls in love with a handsome fox and marries him.
All around her the life of the forest continues on its inevitable cycle. And the Gamekeeper, growing wiser as he grows older, sees it all.
Lucy Crowe will make her role debut as the Vixen, with Emma Bell in the role of the Fox. Leading the forces of the London Philharmonic Orchestra will be Music Director Vladimir Jurowski and, returning to Glyndebourne for the first time since her haunting production of Dvořák’s Rusalka, will be director Melly Still.
A new production for the 2012 Festival
Sung in Czech with English supertitles
Revised version by Jiří Zahrádka by arrangement with Universal Edition A.G. Wien.
Listen to The Cunning Little Vixen podcast (15 mins)
Presenter Peggy Reynolds explores some of the themes and stories behind Leoš Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen. With Gavin Plumley, Julian Johnson and Melly Still, Director of the 2012 Glyndebourne production. (Producer: Mair Bosworth)
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The Cunning Little Vixen
We want to share our work with as many people as possible. Broadcasts have been part of the Glyndebourne story since the 1930s, and in 2007 we were the first opera house in the UK to screen performances into cinemas.
As well as The Cunning Little Vixen, two other productions are being screened in cinemas.
On a summer’s afternoon in the forest, Blue Dragonflies dance around the Badger’s sett. The Forester, made sleepy by the heat and his search for poachers, has a doze. Insects and small animals are at play. The young Vixen scares the Frog, who jumps onto the Forester’s nose. Waking, he grabs the Vixen and decides to take her home to amuse the children.
In the courtyard of the Forester’s lodge, his Dog sidles up to the Vixen with amorous intent, but he gets short shrift. Two boys torment her, so she bites them. The Forester is forced to tie her up. She falls asleep and dreams of herself as a young girl. At dawn, the Cock starts lording it over his hens. The Vixen urges them to free themselves of his domination. To lead them on, she plays dead. As they come to inspect her, she grabs the Cock and the hens and despatches them all. As the Forester tries to intervene she pushes him over and escapes.
In the forest, the Vixen upbraids the Badger for occupying such a large sett alone. Wanting the sett for herself, she urinates on him and he stumps off, insulted. The Vixen claims her den.
At the village inn the Forester, Parson and Schoolmaster are chewing the fat. The Forester teases the Schoolmaster about an old girlfriend Terynka; he fires back about the Forester’s failure to subdue the Vixen. Goaded further, the Schoolmaster goes home, soon followed by the others.
Walking tipsily through the nocturnal forest, the Schoolmaster mistakes the Vixen hiding behind a large sunflower for his beloved, Terynka. The Parson muses on the girl who betrayed him long ago. The Forester in pursuit of the Vixen, fires at her and the others run away.
Moonlight in the forest. The Vixen encounters a handsome Fox and is smitten; he is equally impressed. He woos her with a dead rabbit. They declare their love. They disappear into her den to consummate their union. When they come out, they decide to get married. The forest creatures celebrate their wedding.
In the forest the Forester confronts the poacher Harašta, who boasts that he is going to marry Terynka. The Forester decides to set a trap for the Vixen. Both leave.
The little foxes come out to play. Their mother discovers the trap and decides to taunt whoever is responsible. Seeing Harašta she lies in his path. He puts his basket of chickens down, picks up his gun and gives chase but falls flat on his face. The foxes raid his basket. Nursing a broken nose, Harašta fires aimlessly and kills the Vixen.
Back at the inn, the Forester tells the Schoolmaster he has found the Vixen’s den deserted. The latter learns that Terynka is getting married that day, wearing a new muff made from fox-skin. They talk about the Parson, who has left for a new village where he’s lonely. The Forester pays his bill and sets off for home.
In the forest he remembers his ardent youth. Feeling tired, he admires the natural beauty around him and lies down to sleep. He dreams of the forest animals, and looks around for the Vixen.
Stretching out his hand towards her, he finds he has picked up the Frog. But it isn’t the same frog, says the amphibian -- that was his grandfather, who used to talk about the Forester. The Forester lets his gun fall.
Conductor Vladimir Jurowski
Director Melly Still
Set Designer Tom Pye
Costume Designer Dinah Collin
Lighting Designer Paule Constable
Choreographer Maxine Doyle
Forester Sergei Leiferkus
Vixen (Bystrouška) Lucy Crowe
Fox Emma Bell
Parson / Badger Mischa Schelomianski
Harašta, a poacher William Dazeley
Forester's Wife / Owl Jean Rigby
Schoolmaster/Mosquito Adrian Thompson
Pásek, Innkeeper Colin Judson
Innkeeper’s Wife Sarah Pring