Jenůfa

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Kungliga Operan, opened 1898

  • Jenůfa – Sinéard Mulhern
  • Kostelnička – Lena Nordin
  • Laca – Jesper Taube

An opera sung in Czech with Swedish subtitles and relocated to the west coast of Ireland – thank heavens for Wikipedia! It was well done and ultimately moving as Jenůfa forgave her stepmother for killing her newborn child, although I did find Jenůfa’s voice a little harsh at times.

It led to a few thoughts about nationalism. Czech culture in 1904 kicking against Austrian and Hungarian domination, with Janáček sticking to his native language and premiering at Brno; Swedes building an opera house as grand as any other European nation (the golden salon was a mini Opéra Garnier, and the murals were vaguely like the Burgtheater in Vienna); then bringing it up to now with Nicola Sturgeon’s demands for a second Scottish referendum, and Viktor Orban putting his version of Hungary above co-operation with the rest of the EU.

Also some thoughts about patriarchy. Three out of the last four operas I have seen have been peasant stories involving women’s mistreatment at men’s hands . . . and the women forgiving them. However beautiful the music, impressive the production, and sincere the acknowledgement that norms were different then, I could do with a change of theme.

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