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Leslie Wright
MusicWeb International, August 2012

The production as recorded on the DVD concentrates on the characters and the viewer/listener’s attention is directed toward their inner feelings and thoughts, not just through the singing, but through close-ups of their facial expressions. In the case of the Kostelnicka (the church sacristan), this can be a powerful thing and I have nothing but praise for Deborah Polaski’s performance. Visually, at least, she steals the show and maybe she should. Janácek based his opera on a play by Gabriela Preissová with the title Její pastorykyna (“Her Foster-Daughter), and the opera only later became known for its other main character, Jenufa when Max Brod translated the opera into German. Jenufa, after all, is the work that put Janácek on the international stage, figuratively and literally. It is still his most popular opera today, although his last four, and greatest, operas are finally being performed with some frequency throughout the world.

As in all of Janácek’s operas, the orchestra plays a role at least equal to that of the singers. Ivor Bolton, who I hadn’t heard before, has the measure of the score and the orchestra plays very well for him. He balances the powerful sections where the timpani pound and the brass are given the lead, with the more lyrical passages such as the beautiful and heart-rending love duet in the final scene. The Prelude to Act II with its bassoon duet and timpani is also especially memorable in this performance.

The sound on the DVD is fine and the balance between the singers, chorus (in its limited appearance), and orchestra is exemplary. The picture, while intentionally dark, is clear, with the costumes of the soldiers and the dancers contrasting with some needed colour. In all, this DVD of Janácek’s Jenufa is worthy of serious consideration by fans of the composer and opera lovers in general. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Henson Keys
Parterre Box, May 2012

Bolton…brings a marvelous ability to find the exquisite, emotional beauty in Janacek’s verismo score.

More than anything on this interesting DVD, I will remember the heart-wrenching violins. From the tremolos that begin Act II to the fragile solo that emerges from the sturm und drang of Kostelnicka’s exit to murder the baby, Bolton uses these moments of surpassing delicacy and beauty to a deeply touching effect.

Jenufa is a deeply moving and jarring operatic experience.

The quality of Bolton’s conducting (and playing by the Orchestra of Teatro Real Madrid) is matched by a marvelously simple production from Stephane Braunschweig, serving as both stage director and set designer.

The sets, costumes by Thibault Vancraenenbroeck, and stark lighting by Marion Hewlitt work together synergistically to focus our attention where it should be—not on spectacle or effects, but on the human interactions of the characters.

This is also a fascinatingly understated production. There seems to be a conscious attempt here to flatten the more melodramatic moments and make them more naturalistic, and…it works. There is an Ibsen-like feel to the production, which gives the few moments of real vocal histrionics even more power.

Ms. Polaski is…in extremely good voice here, pure toned throughout the range and without a trace of wobble…I found great pleasure in this portrayal of a real, three-dimensional woman…

British soprano Amanda Roocroft is a lovely…Jenufa, sung and acted with great sensitivity and emotional power. She moves effortlessly through Jenufa’s path…Her singing is mostly quite lovely, especially in pianos and in the middle voice. She can float high notes beautifully as well…

Schukoff’s reedy tenor is well focused and he sings with admirable tone and variety. As the hapless Laca, Miroslav Dvorsky brings a passionate and powerful dramatic tenor to the role…he brings great heart to the role, and the final reconciliation duet with Jenufa is very touching.

…Marta Ubieta finds much personality and style as Steva’s new fiancé, Karolka.

Overall, I found this production extremely interesting and moving…it’s a fascinating “take” on Jenufa, dramatically and musically riveting. © 2012 Parterre Box Read complete review

David Shengold
Opera News, December 2011

JANÁČEK, L.: Jenůfa (Teatro Real, 2009) (NTSC) OA1055D
JANÁČEK, L.: Jenůfa (Teatro Real, 2009) (Blu-ray, HD) OABD7089D

Stéphane Braunschweig’s intense production from Madrid’s Teatro Real, with a cast of international stature, takes its place as another highly worthy version of this profound masterpiece. © Opera News Read complete review

Paul Turok
Turok’s Choice, October 2011

The music that accompanies these events is magnificent (the recruiting scene, Kostelnička’s aria before she kills the baby, Jenufa’s when she discovers the baby gone). Fine video and LPCM 2.0 stereo and DTS Surround; sound on this DVD is very special.

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