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Out of the cradle endlessly rocking

No, not a Regie quiz—though that feature will return soon enough now that the season is up and running—but rather an image from the new Dmitri Tcherniakov production of Jenufa for the Opernhaus Zürich.

It’s a gala affair: conducted by Fabio Luisi, starring Kristine Opolais (pictured above), Michaela Martens, Christopher Ventris, Pavol Breslik and no less than Hanna Schwarz as Grandmother Burja. This bit of luxury casting is perhaps motivated by a  major change in one of the work’s plot points, which involves the old lady in the death of Jenufa’s child.

The company’s preview video, hinting at the boldly atmospheric lighting design by Gleb Filshtinsky, is below.

Photo: Monika Rittershaus


  • 1
    redbear says:

    Why in heavens wouldn’t they open with a crowd pleaser like the Met does? They must think that opera is artsy-fartsy.

  • 2
    MontyNostry says:

    Yeah, like a modern babe’s family is going to be deeply shamed by her giving birth to an illegitimate child. But I guess Jenufa is a pretty failsafe piece and I’m sure the production is interesting.

    Glad to see Opolais is back on stage and I hope her little daughter is now thriving.

    • 2.1
      armerjacquino says:

      Has anyone heard the new recording of SUOR ANGELICA, featuring Opolais? I’m really tempted to get it, except that I already own about a million recordings of the work.

      (Also, Nerva will be OVERJOYED to see who’s playing Suor Genovieffa)

      • 2.1.1
        Cocky Kurwenal says:

        Is it Ginger Costa Jackson?

          • The Vicar of John Wakefield says:

            Hardly in the Isobel Buchanan class! Surely Our Own Rebecca Bottone or Mary Plazas would have made a better Genovieffa…

          • MontyNostry says:

            Isobel Buchanan was rather a lovely singer, just frantically overhyped. She did a delightful Countess Adele in Count Ory at ENO in the early 80s.

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            Buchanan’s basic sound was very bell like and pretty, judging from recordings. Such a shame that she has apparently ended up an alcoholic. She’s rather a good teacher, but has a problematic reputation now.

            Rebecca Bottone would be just the job as Genovieffa (Plazas not so much), as would Sophie Bevan, Lucy Crowe or Sarah Tynan.

          • MontyNostry says:

            That’s very sad about Buchanan. Bottone I find vocally charmless.

          • The Vicar of John Wakefield says:

            One hopes the ANGELICA would be done in good, clean English. Crowe sings a treat.

    • 2.2
      armerjacquino says:

      like a modern babe’s family is going to be deeply shamed by her giving birth to an illegitimate child

      I guess the issue isn’t the illegitimacy so much as the fact that it might jeopardise her marriage? There’s still a depressing number of men in the world who would baulk at bringing up someone else’s child.

  • 3
    Porgy Amor says:

    This looks as though it could be amazing. Tcherniakov is someone whose productions sometimes have annoyed me *while* I’m watching them, but then they stay in my mind. The good ideas in them outlast the bad ideas. Sometimes it is the reverse with the extreme Regies, of which I consider him one. At least for me, and I realize this is an individual thing, when I think back on a Tcherniakov production I have seen, I don’t immediately think of the dumbest idea in it, like “He had the tenor sing the aria in a playpen!” I think of all the things that did work, which might include the acting of the leads, the attention to behavioral detail, the evocative lighting (he always seems to work with good production teams), the intelligent teasing out of subtext…and after all of that, I might think, “I wish he hadn’t had the tenor sing the aria in a playpen, but even so…”

    I think he has real gifts and has not peaked yet. I expect him to do better and better work as he gets deeper into middle age.

    • 3.1
      la vociaccia says:

      Yes. I thought that huit-clos trovatore was completely absurd when I was watching it, but now I can’t get it out of my head. The way everyone on stage seemed to have about a million things they wanted to say to each other besides what was in the libretto was very compelling. And I rather liked Popsy, go figure

  • 4
    DonCarloFanatic says:

    This production looks amazing. I think of Jenufa as a bleak thing usually enacted in dark, stark peasant hovels. Here there’s plenty of what we used to call “Danish modern,” which also is stark, but light. For the first time, I actually have some interest in seeing this opera.

    But the preview is like a modern movie preview--seems to cover all the high points, so why go see the full deal?

  • 5

    I found this tid bit quite interesting. I wonder why they made the change plot, but then again, usually the older member of the family would be the most rigid in holding to the “values of old” and it would make sense.

    Now, about the recording of Angelica…. More info please. I am a sucker for Angelica

  • 6
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    Well we got plastic shopping bags in the market about 10 years after they were common in Europe, and debit cards in wide use also years after the Europeans were swiping plastic to buy everything. I wonder how much longer it will take for every opera production in America to have some degree of the modernity evoked in this Jenufa.

  • 7
    Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    I hope Ventris get himself a sexy Liftetime Movie Network really soon

    • 7.1
      Porgy Amor says:

      I hope you like back hair. And shoulder hair. And upper-arm hair. He spends 75% of the Nederlands LADY MACBETH OF MTSENSK either shirtless or in a wife-beater, and dude is furry.

    • 7.2
      Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      I’d settle for a good cameo appearence on Law and Order SVU for Ventris as a love interest for Olivia who goes wacko.

  • 8
    Will says:

    Glimmerglass did a Jenufa many years ago set in a Czech community in the 1930s American heartland like the one where Dvorak summered while in this country. Back when her voice was still intact, Elizabeth Byrne was a very fine Kostelnicka. Maria Kanyova was Jenufa and it all worked quite well.

    • 8.1
      la vociaccia says:

      Kanyova! I haven’t heard that name in ages. I remember a very fine Angelica from her at NYCO a decade ago

      • 8.1.1
        Krunoslav says:

        Are the resources of Operabase that unknown to PR readers?

        Maria Kanyova sang Pat Nixon at San Francisco Opera this June and returns there next summer for Miriam in Mark Adamo’s new Nathan Gunn-on-the-Cross GOSPEL OF MARY MAGDALENE. This winter she’ll be Gretel opposite Elizabeth DeShong at Lyric Opera of Chicago.

        Major company gigs here…


          She was a fabulous Oscar in an otherwise horrid Ballo in LOC several years ago. The one time in my life that I experienced both Villaroel (horrid) and Neil Sickoff (still in great shape).

          Kanyova was superb. She also recently did Constanze and even more recently did Marie Antoinette, the last one for OTSL.

          • MontyNostry says:

            I’ve always assumed that Villaroel was a Domingo protégée. I could see no other particular reason for her high-profile (if rather brief) international career. The tone --while distinctive, at least — was permanently curdled and every vowel came out as ‘euh’.

          • kashania says:

            Kanyova was a lovely Pat Nixon in Toronto last season.

  • 9
    papopera says:

    Gross, fucking gross! They play the score intact but sew a different scenario on it. What are they trying to do to our beloved operas ?

  • 10
    Camille says:

    Monsieur Monty—while Villaroel was given quite a boost, shall we say, by her appearances with Domingo, she was actually discovered by Renata Scotto when she was in Sud America, and I believe she enabled her to come to the States to study at Juilliard. I can’t remember all the detail in perfect order right now, so you will excuse me.

    She was variable and had a highly individual sound. Her Margherita/Elena was quite a wonderfully sung and acted performance. She was not to all tastes, but I did like her.

    Oh, that reminds me, I saw her in L.A. In El Gato Montes, with DerMingo and Justino Diaz in, what, 1992 or 3. She was charming.

    The Robert Wilson Butterfly she did was belaboured.

  • 11
    Sanford says:

    Cocky, I vote for Ronan Tynan instead of Sarah Tynan.

  • 12
    kashania says:

    This production looks fabulous. And it films so beautifully!