Sat 9/23, Sun 9/24 & Tue 9/26
The Cleveland Orchestra is on the verge of reaching its centennial. In celebration of this momentous milestone, the innovative made-for-Cleveland stylized opera production of Leoš Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen will grace the Severance Hall stage.
The production, complete with music provided by one of the world’s great orchestras, under the baton of music director Franz Welser-Möst and featuring the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, the Children’s Chorus and a dozen-plus vocalists, along with animation by the Walter Robot Studios, projections and lighting by Jason Thompson, costumes by Ann Close-Farley and masks by Cristina Waltz, will come forth for three performances.
The Cunning Little Vixen, which was conceived around 1921, is the tale of a clever fox, who, accompanied by other wildlife as well as a few humans, has a series of adventures while traversing their life cycles. The libretto for the comic opera/tragedy, which was adopted by the Czech composer from a serialized novella, incorporates Moravian folk music and rhythms.
First performed by the Cleveland Orchestra in May of 2014, it is credited with returning the composition to its opera roots. It features hole-in-the wall carnival cutouts to place the singers’ heads on the animated bodies of the animal characters.The opera is noted for breaking from traditional forms of that musical format, by adding ballet, mime and orchestral interludes.
Though the piece contains the vixen’s death at the end of the piece, it is the lightest of the author’s operas. The sound is often compared to that of the French composer Claude Debussy. It is noteworthy that at the composer’s request, the final scene from the opera was performed at his funeral.
The Cunning Little Vixen will be staged on September 23, 24 and 26 at Severance Hall. Call 216-231-7300 or go to cleveorchestra.com for tickets.
[Written by Roy Berko]