Jenufa critique: a manufacturing infused with heartwarming humanity


he youthful Lithuanian soprano Asmik Grigorian has been garnering acclaim at La Scala, Salzburg and Bayreuth in newest a very long time and her debut at Covent Yard within the title job of Janacek’s Jenufa was eagerly predicted. The Finnish soprano Karita Mattila, as quickly as an exquisite Jenufa herself, returns to the Royal Opera within the position of the formidable Kostelnicka (church warden), Jenufa’s foster-mom.

Expectations ended up excessive and fairly largely they’ve been fulfilled. Grigorian fantastically incarnates the tragic position of Jenufa, equally in her anguished human physique language and her command of the half’s enthusiasm-infused lyricism. Probably the wide-open up areas of Michael Levine’s if not distinctive units, and her placing on them, actually don’t assist her ample, however when she arrives downstage with Laca on the shut, her complete vocal potential is at final realised within the rapturous redemption the pair bear.

Mattila, for her part, offers an acutely perceptive analyzing of the job of the Kostelnicka: terrifying she might be, however she additionally suffers. Proper right here she is found as a frightened, susceptible aged matriarch, ready to exhibit flashes of human heat, however damned by her murderous strategy to realize a decent marriage for her anticipating however deserted foster-daughter.

Nicky Spence’s splendidly sung Laca matures from a lumbering, sinister social reject right into a determine in a position of a loyalty that gives some hope for the longer term. Saimir Pirgu is an impassioned Steva, his 50 percent-brother and rival.

Karita Mattila

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Claus Guth’s manufacturing is on the similar time powerfully, even carefully, symbolic and psychologically probing. The white partitions and beds of Levine’s opening set, redolent of a psychological establishment, stand for a producing unit the place the village girls are incomes issues this type of as cradles and trousseaux. Their mechanised, alienated total world (costumes by Gesine Völlm, lights by James Farncombe) delivers the backdrop for Jenufa’s tormented existence: in eloquent synchrony the ladies wrest liquor bottles from their menfolk.

Within the 2nd act, silhouetted girl figures huddle in a nook sporting headgear harking back to a Handmaid’s cowl. From the group emerges an large crow, no query a aspect of the sleeping Jenufa’s nightmare, which perches atop the aptly cage-like composition that’s her mattress room. Equally symbolic are the ever-present shutters that define Jenufa’s existence, however which lastly come down powering the few as they hesitantly face the foreseeable future.

Guth’s disposition of each equally principals and group unfailingly exudes a way of menace: the determined steps these characters resort to are plainly created by the stifling ecosystem that has spawned them. Glimpses of pure magnificence, these sorts of as a starlit sky, presage the uplifting closing transformation. Henrik Nánási’s high quality conducting highlights the textures that glint like a knife, nonetheless captures additionally the heartwarming humanity that throbs by the do the job.

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