sometimes it seems like we’re all waiting for something….lives to change, our winning numbers to come up, that special occasion to get dressed to kill or to use the best china. And at this time of year, those of us in the northern hemisphere wait for spring…for the tell-tale signs that it’s just around the corner. Yesterday when I cycled back home after work through a nearby park the afternoon sun was shining through the trees. Trees that were still far from showing any signs of growth…but which, nevertheless looked glorious in the afternoon light. There’s no need to wait for spring to enjoy the world outside our front doors..this time of year has it’s own beauty.
Giving up one career to become an artist six years ago has made me more aware of colour and light than I ever was before. It has also taught me that waiting for the future to happen is a waste…use the best china, wear your favourite clothes, stop waiting for the spring…it will get here when it gets here…and in the meantime there’s still beauty to be found and plenty of living to be done..
Ah Spring! Time for inspiration and rebirth. Can you believe that Czech composer Leoš Janáček didn’t hear his first opera until he was 50? That’s pretty amazing for one who is considered to be among the most important composers to come out of the Czech Republic.
Having been born in 1854 and entering the operatic world at the turn of the century, Janáček is part of a wave of 20th century composers who sought to bring everyday life and a variety of resources into musical composition. Perhaps this is one reason audiences are still connecting with his work. His melodies come from speech rather than notes. This means his work continues to be very original and unorthodox with odd spacing of chords and phrases. He wrote in what he referred to as “motifs” which he named “sčasovka” in his work on music theory. There is no real English translation, but was described by John Tyrrell, a leading specialist on Janáček’s music, as “a little flash of time, almost a kind of musical capsule, which Janáček often used in slow music as tiny swift motifs with remarkably characteristic rhythms that are supposed to pepper the musical flow.”
Janáček’s personal life was the stuff movies are made of. Tirelessly working on his music with no success early in his career; loss of himself after the death of his child; in love with one woman while married to another; after losing interest in that affair, living in the same house with his secretly divorced wife while suffering unrequited love for yet another woman. This all gave him plenty of fodder for creativity for sure.
It’s exactly my kind of thing………mainly told with animals! I’ve heard the costumes are fabulous and you can never lose with choreography from Heike Hennig and the Gewandhaus orchestra conducted by Matthias Foremny / William Lacey (29.6.)
Natually it will be sung in German. Here’s the quick wikipedia synopsis to prepare you in case you don’t have time to watch the BBC cartoon.
In the forest, the animals and insects are playing and dancing. The Forester enters and lies down against a tree for a nap. A curious Vixen Cub (usually sung by a young girl), inquisitively chases a frog right into the lap of the surprised forester who forcibly takes the vixen home as a pet. Time passes (in the form of an orchestral interlude) and we see the Vixen, now grown to a young adult (and sung by a soprano), tied up in the forester’s yard with the conservative old dachshund. Fed up with life in confinement, the vixen chews through her rope, attacks the chickens, and hops the fence to freedom.
The vixen takes over a badger’s home and kicks him out. In the inn, the pastor, forester, teacher and schoolmaster drink and talk about their mutual infatuation with the gypsy girl Terynka. The drunken schoolmaster leaves the inn and mistakes a sunflower behind which the vixen is hiding for Terynka and confesses his devotion to her. The forester, also on his way home, sees the vixen and fires two shots at her, sending her running. Later, the vixen, coming into her womanhood, meets a charming boy fox, and they retire to the badger’s home. An unexpected pregnancy and a forest full of gossipy creatures necessitate their marriage, which rounds out the act.
The poacher Harasta is engaged to Terynka and is out hunting in preparation for their marriage. He sets a fox trap, which the numerous vixen cubs mock. Harasta, watching from a distance, shoots and kills the vixen, sending her children running. At Harasta’s wedding, the forester sees the vixen’s fur, which Harasta gave to Terynka as a wedding present, and flees to the forest to reflect. He returns to the place where he met the vixen, and sits at the tree grieving the loss of both the vixen and Terynka. His grief grows until, just as in the beginning of the opera, a frog unexpectedly jumps in his lap, the grandson of the one who did so in act one. This reassurance of the cycle of death leading to new life gives his heart a deep peace.