Opera students of the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University (QCGU) will bring one of the 20th century’s musical treasures to the stage this month in what may be the only opera to be inspired by a newspaper cartoon strip!
Described as the grown-up opera version of The Lion King, The Cunning Little Vixen celebrates the relationship between humans and animals and is based on Rudolf Tĕsnohlídek’s novel about a wily vixen which was serialised in a Czech local newspaper in 1920.
Sung in English it also reminds us of the continuous and inevitable cycle of life, and the restorative power of nature, according to Gregory Massingham, Head of Opera at the QCGU.
“Leoš Janáček’s glorious opera had the most unconventional of beginnings,” he explains.
“He was captivated by the story and illustrations he saw in the paper and immediately saw its potential as a staged work.
“In writing the opera he exploited the episodic nature of the story as it appeared in the newspaper serials, so that in the opera, short scenes follow each other with seamless transitions, as if it were a film.”
Set in a world populated by animals and humans, the story follows the many adventures of the mischievous Vixen Sharp Ears.
Yet there’s nothing cosy about Janácek’s depictions of either the animal or human world, Greg says.
“For all its magical elements, the enduring appeal of the opera lies in its truthful representation of the natural world in which humans and animals co-exist and this honesty reaches its peak in the opera’s radiant finale,” he continues.
“The forester’s hymn to creation and to his acceptance of the cyclic nature of life and of the constant renewal of the forest around him is one of the most glorious moments in all opera.”
The Cunning Little Vixen
7.30pm, Friday 30 May
Queensland Conservatorium Theatre,
140 Grey St, South Bank.
Tickets and details from Con Events.
Scenes from Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen
Chamber version arranged by Jonathan Dove
English translation by Norman Tucker
Directed by Anna Sweeny
Conducted by Peter Luff
MEDIA CONTACT: Lauren Marino, 0418 799 544, [email protected]