The phenomenal Welsh National Opera has returned to the Mayflower this November, bringing us The Cunning Little Vixen by Leoš Janáček for one night only. That being said, this opera production is the first in a short series of Janáček’s works to be performed by WNO in the next four years, and it is safe to say that we will be looking forward to their return here at Radio Sonar.
The production, based on a newspaper comic strip, follows the life and adventures of Vixen Sharp-Ears. Her character is feisty and independent, often mocking those who get in her way. This felt reminiscent of some children’s Czech productions that came long after The Vixen, including Loupežník Rumcajs (Rumcajs the Little Bandit of the Forest) and Krtek (Little Mole); the element of comic relief seems to be almost universal between them, creating a strong sense of nostalgia. What is unique about The Vixen, however, is the tragedy of love lost and days forgotten. While there is a clear binary opposition between the animals and the humans, the longing for a good life and partnership can be seen on both sides of the story.
While the production was captivating on the whole, I would particularly commend the visual aspect. The stage design, the costumes, the props – it was all breathtaking. The rippling landscape created a fantastical, dimensional setting that made the choreography all the more interesting. The subject of props is also worth mentioning – portraying small, nimble characters like the Mosquito could be potentially difficult due to the comparatively large human form. What I loved about The Vixen‘s approach was the attention to the costume as well as the choreography involving those characters, incorporating the animal prop as much as movement and sparkle.
As always, the Welsh National Opera has put on a phenomenal show, letting us into the world of the lovely Vixen. Sadly, as the closing production for the season, it is no longer available. However, we suggest that you watch this space for more incredible productions around Southampton.