The Cunning Little Vixen by leoš Janáček.

The Cunning Little Vixen was first performed on 6th November 1924 at the National Theatre in Brno. The version at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton was a co-production by the Welsh National Opera and Scottish Opera, performed in Czech with English subtitles. Divided into three Acts the two hours long Opera seems shorter than that as you immerse yourself into the storyline.

The stage has been divided into three sections which are connected up into one larger area and then divided to allow other scenes to be created. It looked like an aerial view of fields that you would see when you’re flying over them in a plane. The combination of colours and patchwork designs looked stunning.

The stage and the impressive scenery was built and painted by Cardiff Theatrical Services Ltd. I was completely in awe of the scatter cushions that had been placed across the stage to create the imagery of hedges and trees which are used by various cast members to hide behind on occasions.

I particularly admired the symmetry of how the cast had been directed while they were all on the stage. Director David Pountney has created an extremely good balance and it is extremely aesthetically pleasing as the equal numbers io f cast on each side of the stage allow you to see the detail of the characters costumes and facial expressions by not overcrowding the areas.

The vixen (Aoife Miskelly) as pictured above and fox (Lucia Cervoni) have been well cast and their presence on the stage commanded the roles they were portraying convincingly. The fragile frame of the dancer portraying vixen allowed her the agility to take on the traits of the cunning and nimble animal as she moved across the fields while she hunted, played and attempts to get away from the poacher (David Stout). Choreographer Stuart Hopps has done a remarkable job.

The changing lights over the landscape, falling leaves and beautiful flowers endorsed the illusion if the seasons changing. Lighting designer Nick Chelton has certainly created lighting for all the seasons.

Costume designer Siân Price certainly has an incredible eye for colours and patterns and has created two beautiful costumes for both the vixen and the fox in various shades of reds. Along with the costumes for badger, frog, hare and all the other woodland creatures which are all easily identified in the Opera. The young actor Efan Arthur William was extremely endearing as he hopped around the stage

The photo above features the chicken scene, their mannerisms and clucking all sounded very realistic. The cockerel strutting around proudly was a great addition to the scene and added some humour.

Conductor Tomáš Hanus lead the orchestra through this enchanting Opera with perfect performance from every member of the orchestra. The whole production has definitely left me with a lasting impression.

The variety of scenes, cast members and the endearing musical score has bought this playful Opera to life with enchanting animals and humans attempting to co-exist within the boundaries of a small country village.

Five Stars.

Photo credit Richard Hubert Smith

For further details and information on future productions please use the links below.

https://www.mayflower.org.uk/whats-on/wno-the-cunning-little-vixen-2019/

https://www.wmc.org.uk/en/whats-on/2019/the-cunning-little-vixen/

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