Review The Cunning little vixen, WNO by Eva marloes

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen takes us into a magic and yet very real world of humans and animals seeking love. Mischief, irony, and melancholy are mixed in all the right doses. David Pountney’s production is full of spirit, excellent performances, an ironic libretto, and beautiful costumes to please all audiences. It is the perfect production to introduce children to opera.  

Janáček’s cinematic musical score, with a touch of Debussy, takes into a fantasy world where humans and animals are all at pains to find love. The Cunning Little Vixen is a fable on the cycle of life, yet it is no mere rustic idyll. It is infused with a sweet melancholia. The Forester, the Parson, the Schoolmaster, and the Poacher, all sigh for their lost youth and long-gone love. It is that youthful love that is now a dream, of which the Forester is reminded by the Vixen. Her mischievous provocations bring back that thirst for life and freedom.  

Aoife Miskelly, as the Vixen, excels in balancing the Vixen’s mischief, sweetness, and liveliness. Her crystalline voice combines beautifully with the seductive one of Lucia Cervoni, as the Fox, making for stunning duets. Claudio Otelli, as the Forester, gives a solid and skilful performance. Peter Van Hulle, as the Schoolmaster, and David Stout, as the Poacher, entertain and charm. The sober bass of Wojtek Gierlach, as the Parson, adds the right amount of melancholy. 

The revised version of the libretto by Jiří Zahrádka adds irony to the mix. The Little Vixen is a union leader and a feminist seeking to arouse the exploited hens against the patriarchal cock by appealing to their sense of sisterhood. She is a socialist revolutionary overthrowing the ‘lazy fat cat’ of a badger to get herself a home. The political nods, which may seem out of place in a fable about nature, are so well scripted to flow naturally. It is this irony that carries this opera into the 21st century. It could not be more topical.   

The production is currently on tour , further information can be found at the links below.

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

  • Fri 11 Oct7.30pmIncludes free pre-performance talkBook in advance alongside your tickets£14 – £50Book

Theatre Royal Plymouth

  • Thu 17 Oct7.30pmIncludes free pre-performance talkBook in advance alongside your tickets£15 – £54Book

Venue Cymru, Llandudno

  • Thu 31 Oct7.30pmIncludes free pre-performance talkBook in advance alongside your tickets£17 – £45Book

Birmingham Hippodrome

  • Thu 7 Nov7.30pmIncludes free pre-performance talkBook in advance alongside your tickets£22 – £56Where applicable, a 6% transaction charge may apply (excl. cash sales in person)Book

New Theatre Oxford

  • Thu 21 Nov7.30pmIncludes free pre-performance talkBook in advance alongside your tickets£13 – £53Plus £3.65 ATG transaction feeBook

Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

  • Thu 28 Nov7.30pmIncludes free pre-performance talkBook in advance alongside your tickets£16 – £52Book
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