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Robert Benson, January 2012

What a magnificent opera Jenufa is…The entire cast is superb. This is an essential release! © 2012 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

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2011

Fifty years ago we would never have dreamed of the popularity now enjoyed by Janáček’s operas whose musical style was far ahead of its time. The prolonged applause that greeted this performance at Madrid’s Teatro Real shows how things have changed. The highly charged story of Jenůfa relates the bigotry that would have once existed in a small provincial location towards an unmarried mother. The disgrace to her family would have been so great that Jenůfa’s stepmother could not accept such shame. The only way forward would be to lock the girl away until it was born, then drugging her take the baby away and drown it. It is a plan that has the fatal flaw that after the winter ice had thawed the dead child would be discovered. As an operatic plot it is well-neigh ideal, the dramatic soprano role to the ‘mother’ set beside the fragility of Jenůfa, two principal tenors used as Jenůfa’s false and true lover. It is here presented in a production from Stéphane Braunschweig, the cast’s costumes represent a time towards the end of the 19th century. He uses minimal sets, and on a basically empty stage we miss the claustrophobic feel that is essential in a second act that depicts the confines of Jenůfa’s darkened home, while Janáček’s piece of high drama that ends the act going for nothing. Fortunately Braunschweig has an absolutely superb cast with Amanda Roocroft as a vocally and visually ideal Jenůfa; the great dramatic soprano, Deborah Polaski, provides a fearsome stepmother, while the heldontenor voice of Miroslav Dvorsky contrasts well with the lyric quality of Nikolai Schukoff as the smooth-talking Steva. The remaining members of the cast are excellent, while the orchestra, conducted by Ivor Bolton with such an idiomatic feel for Janáček, provides the multitude of orchestral colours the composer used to underpin the text. The opera itself almost suggests the close and distant camera angles that are used, and they are here well mixed to make a telling presentation. You can select subtitles in English, French, German or Spanish, the work being sung in the original Czech. Even with production reservations I most strongly recommend the release which also available on standard DVD OA1055D.

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