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26.5.05

More on Janáček Operas in France

Following up on my last post about productions of the operas of Leoš Janáček in France right now. I wanted to add a few comments from an article (Janacek trois fois au sommet, May 24) by Christian Merlin for Le Figaro, which mentions first the special centennial Jenůfa that reopened the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse (which I wrote about back in October) (my translation):

You might think that the 2004/2005 season was the Janáček Year in France. The Opéra de Lyon is going one step further: a real Janáček festival, even offering several chances to see Jenůfa, Kát'a Kabanová, and The Makropoulos Affair in three consecutive evenings. What a tour de force in a theater hardly equipped to carry off this sort of repertory schedule: the stagehands must have a lot of sleepless nights! [...]

The best part about this schedule is that it galvanizes the public, which one hopes will be won over definitively to Janáček's cause and his theater in music, so eloquent and human: judging by the enthusiastic ovations, that has succeeded (who ever said the Lyonnais were cold?). But also the singers, as each singer is involved in at least two of the three operas, meaning that a troupe spirit has been created. As for the orchestra of the Opéra de Lyon, forced to undergo a marathon runner's training regimen to which it is not accustomed, it has risen to the occasion: the constant quality of its playing remains the common factor of these three productions, with a slightly lower quality in Kat'a on the second night. This regularity is due to the excellent leadership of conductor Lothar Königs, whom we already admired in Wozzeck last year but who has surpassed himself here: the 40-something German merits all praise for the drama and intelligence of his expressive and rigorous conducting.
Of course, the Met had Janáček this year with Kát'a Kabanová. Hello, Washington National Opera (PDF)?

UPDATE:
See also Nicolas Blanmont, La France à l'heure Janacek (La Libre Belgique, May 31).

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