Thursday, 3 December 2015

Vintage revival (ON/Jenůfa)

Leoš Janáček, Jenůfa (Aleksandar Marković cond. Orchestra of Opera North, Nottingham Theatre Royal).

Image: Opera North
Doing Wagner is mega-expensive. A duff cycle risks ruin (such as that threatened by an unpopular Met one some years ago).  So Valkyrie horns must be drawn in if it is to be done. Glyndebourne are having only two new productions and four revivals to accommodate the Meistersinger in the summer. Opera North, by no means the most lavishly-funded of organisations, are doing complete Ring cycles next summer, on tour, as an addition to their full programme. So even if semi-staged, still an unfathomable trick.
On Wednesday, 17th November Opera North's revival of a vintage 1990s production of Jenůfa drew to a close in Nottingham. Certainly it looked of its period, but it was engaging and aesthetically pleasing. The stage was fairly uncluttered, and it to some degree it reminded me of Christof Loy. Strong geometric shapes, primary colours. A simple staging left space for a number of coups
This isn't light opera, and it required a number of singers with Wagnerian experience - viz sometime Valkyries Susan Bickley and Elizabeth Sikora.  Somehow Susan Bickley carried off Kostelnička that we felt some sympathy for what she had done, and for her the loudest ovation was reserved.Jenůfa (Ylva Kihlberg) was deeply impressive too. The whole thing was carried off to great effect.
One problem from the dress circle was that the orchestra was too loud and the signers struggled to make themselves heard, especially in the first act. These were usual seats, this is not a customary problem for ON there, so I can't quite fathom that one. It certainly detracted.

Overall: not an enjoyable evening, but an impressive one.

Cast & Creative Team

Jenůfa: Ylva Kihlberg
Kostelnička: Susan Bickley
Grandmother: Elizabeth Sikora
Števa Buryja: Daniel Norman
Laca Klemeň: David Butt Philip
Foreman: Dean Robinson
Karolka: Daisy Brown
Mayor: Jeremy Peaker
Mayor’s Wife: Claire Pascoe
Maid: Beth Mackay
Barena: Sarah Estill
Jano: Frankie Bounds
Conductor: Aleksandar Marković
Director and designer: Tom Cairns
Lighting Designer: Wolfgang Göbbel
Choreographer: Aletta Collins
English translation: Otakar Kraus & Edward Downes

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