- UBC Opera
- UBC Opera: The Cunning Little Vixen
UBC Opera: The Cunning Little Vixen
Single tickets from just $15!
Leoš Janáček’s bittersweet fable shows a deep understanding of the complexities of power and oppression, and the cyclical nature of life. Usually seen as a fairy tale, this comic opera offers revealing insight into nature’s struggle to survive the devastating footprint of humanity. With a colourful and majestic score influenced by Moravian folk songs, this opera is a modern classic.
Directed by Nancy Hermiston. Conducted by Norbert Baxa.
Sung in Czech with English surtitles.
On a summer’s afternoon in the forest, insects and animals dance around the Badger’s den. The Forester enters and being made sleepy by the day’s heat lies down for a nap. The young Vixen scares a Frog, who jumps onto the Forester’s lap. The Forester is startled but, instead of the frog, he grabs the Vixen and decides to take her home to amuse the children.
In the courtyard of the Forester’s lodge, his Dog cozies up to the Vixen with amorous intent, but he gets turned down. The Forester’s son and a friend torment the Vixen, so she bites one. The Forester is forced to tie her up. She falls asleep and dreams of freedom. At dawn, the Rooster starts lording it over his hens. The Vixen urges them to free themselves of his domination. To lead them on, she plays dead. As they come to inspect her, she grabs the Rooster and then the hens and kills them all. As the Forester and his wife try to intervene she escapes into the forest, liberated.
In the forest, the Vixen taunts the Badger for occupying such a large den alone. Wanting the den for herself, she urinates on him and he stomps off, insulted. The Vixen claims her den. At the village inn the Forester, Priest and Schoolmaster are engaged in some playful banter. The Forester teases the Schoolmaster about his love interest, Terynka; he fires back about the Forester’s failure to subdue the Vixen.
Goaded further, the Schoolmaster decides to go home, and is soon followed by the others. Walking tipsily through the nocturnal forest, the Schoolmaster mistakes the Vixen hiding behind a large sunflower for his beloved, Terynka. The Priest muses on the girl who betrayed him long ago. The Forester in pursuit of the Vixen, fires at her into the darkness and everyone scatters. Moonlight in the forest, the Vixen encounters a handsome Fox and is smitten; he is equally impressed. He woos her with a dead rabbit and they declare their love. They disappear into her den to consummate their union. When they come out, they decide to get married. The forest creatures celebrate their wedding.
In the forest, Harasta the poacher comes along and finds a freshly killed hare on the ground. He is about to pick it up when the Forester appears and taunts him about still being unmarried. Harasta replies by saying that he is about to marry Terynka, whom everybody, including the married Forester, seems to have an eye for. Harasta goes off laughing while the Forester sets a trap for the foxes.
When all have left, the foxes and all their cubs arrive to play. Their mother discovers the trap and teaches her cubs about the dangers of humans. The cubs continue playing and their parents speculate on how many more cubs they will have when they hear Harasta approaching. Seeing him, the Vixen distracts the poacher from her cubs. He puts his basket of chickens down, picks up his gun and gives chase but falls flat on his face. The foxes raid his basket. Nursing a broken nose, Harasta fires aimlessly and kills the Vixen.
Back at the inn, the Forester tells the Schoolmaster he has found the Vixen’s den deserted. It is then revealed that Terynka is getting married that day, wearing a new muff made from fox-skin. They talk about the Priest, who has left for a new village where he’s lonely. The Forester pays his bill and sets off for home.
In the forest he remembers his ardent youth. Feeling tired, he admires the natural beauty around him and lies down to sleep. He is awakened by a young fox, a cub of his own Vixen.
Stretching out his hand towards her, he is interrupted by the Frog. But it isn’t the same frog as before — that was his grandfather, who used to talk about the Forester. The wheel of life has come full circle.