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Janacek: Jenufa
live from Teatro Real,Madrid October 2009




Grandmother Buryja: Mette Ejsing
Laca Klemen: Miroslav Dvorský
Števa Buryja: Nikolai Schukoff
Kostelnicka Buryja: Deborah Polaski
Jenufa: Amanda Roocroft
Foreman: Károly Szemerédy
Mayor: Miguel Sola
Mayor’s wife: Marta Mathéu
Karolka: Marta Ubieta
Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Real/Ivor Bolton
Director: Stéphane Braunschweig Lighting: Marion Hewlett

Opus Arte DVD: OA 1055 D

Staged minimally by Stéphane Braunschweig, this is a great Jenufa to have on DVD.

An important contribution is the subtle lighting by Marion Hewlett (see the baby's nursery "wall" as Jenufa comes back from a drugged sleep). But note that my illustrations show the one minus in the DVD production; the subtitles in white are often hard to read.

Jenufa rarely fails in production in whatever style. Amanda Roocroft and Deborah Polaski as step-daughter & step-mother make a great pairing, and Miroslav Dvorsky is excellent as one of the most complex male heroes in all opera. However, the last Act and its ending were less moving than I remembered & going back to the more naturalistic Glyndebourne version [Arthaus 100 208]*.

Ivor Bolton's conducting of the Mackerras/Tyrell 1996 reconstruction of the 'Brno 1908' original version is exemplary; it is hard now to understand why the original orchestration (sounding rich and sumptuous as given here) was thought too abrasive for the first audiences, prompting its revision by Karel Kovařovic:
- - today it is heard in the composer's original version, Jenůfa's early popularity was fostered by a revision by of what was considered its eccentric style and orchestration [wikipedia]

Peter Grahame Woolf

See Music Web at Madrid: - - Braunschweig’s directing is very good indeed. A minimalist production needs a lot of intervention by the director as well as outstanding lighting, particularly in the interior scenes. Both were very well achieved here. The sets consist of simple movable walls, opening and closing for different scenes and creating an appropriately oppressive atmosphere throughout. Apart from that, a few very significant props; a rosemary plant, a cradle in Act II, some benches that represent a church in the last Act and a windmill sail (almost another of the protagonists for this opera) are the only representations of different settings. The costumes move simply between white and black and are invariably appropriate. There is excellent lighting too. But the stage direction is remarkable, helped along by singer/actors who are genuine specialists in their roles, and more than decent management of the crowd scenes. And what is even more important is that Braunschweig's work is always at the service of music and libretto with the result that real emotion is transmitted to the public.

*PGW's review of the Glyndebourne DVD conducted by Andrew Davis and with Roberta Alexander as Jenufa, Anja Silja implacable as the Kostelnicka, and Philip Langridge an explosive Laca