THE CUNNING LITTLE VIXEN
Leos Janacek


"Prihody Lisky Bystrousky"
(Het sluwe vosje)
composer: Leos Janacek (1854-1928)
libretto: Leos Janacek, after Rudolf Tesnohldek
first performance:  1924, Brunn
conductor: Kenneth Montgomery
direction: Javier López Piñón
set and costume design
: Fer Smidt
lighting design: Henk Kraayenzank
choreography: Hanna Samson

production: Marijke Reuvers
make-up artist: Pilo Pilken
assistent designers: Robijn den Hartog, Wessel Boelen
black and white photography: Co Broerse

company: Koninklijk Conservatorium

premiere: Kees van Baarenzaal, Den Haag 18th June 1996


 

het sluwe vosje

principal characters;
Bystrouska, "Sharp-Ears", the vixen; soprano
A fox, her mate; soprano or tenor
A badger; bass
A dog; mezzo-soprano
The Forester; baritone
His wife; alto
The Schoolmaster; tenor
The Parson; bass
Harasta, a poacher; bass




Act 1, Scene 1. The forest animals are disturbed by a human, the forester Bartos, who pauses on his way home. He dozes off and the animals resume their play, including Sharp-Ears, a baby vixen. Sharp-Ears sees a frog and tries to eat it, but the frog leaps away and wakens Bartos, who seizes the vixen and goes off with her, taking her from her own world into the realm ofhumans.

Act 1, Scene 2. At the Forester's house, Sharp-Ears describes the love life ofthe birds in the forest to Catcher, the family dog. Excited by the talk of sex, he tries to embrace her but Sharp- Ears bites him and he slinks away. The forester grandson and another child try to torment their pet but Sharp- Ears defends herself and Bartos angrily ties her up. Soon the chickens arrive to taunt her. The hens are controlled by a malicious, vain rooster and Sharp'-Ears immediately Ufges the hens to revolt. When the laugh at her, she pretends to commit suicide. The chickens approach to look at the corpse, but Sharp-Ears leaps up and begins slaughtering them. Bartos and his wife try to stop the carnage but are no match for the vixen. Sharp-Ears bites through her rope and escapes into the forest.

Act 2, Scene 1. Sharp-Ears sees a Badger with a fine home, provokes an argument and collects a group of insects. She calls the Badger a capitalist and when he hits her she accuses him of attempted mUfder, then pees on him. The Badger flees and, to the unanimous approval of the forest citizens, the cunning Sharp-Ears moves into the Badger's den.

Act 2, Scene 2. Forester Bartos is drinking in Pasek's Tavem with the Schoolmaster and a Priest (Father Alois). The Priest is unhappy because he has to move to a new parish and Bartos tries to distract him by teasing the Schoolmaster about his love for Miss Terynka, the owner ofthe local sweet shop. The Schoolmasterretaliates with a snide question about Bartos pet vixen. Bartos swears he II catch her again: soon she will go into heat and all creatures are stupid when they are driven by sex. He looks pointedly at the schoolmaster, who has just played a wrong card, but the Schoolmaster says good night and leaves, folIowed by Father Alois. Bartos woozily philosOphizes on the sorrows of marriage, and when innkeeper Pasek innocently asks about the vixen, Bartos retorts with a CUfse and a rode goodnight. Pasek is left with his mouth open.

Act 2, Scene 3. The Schoolmaster is going through the moonlit forest when he falls and loses his glasses. The Vixen appears, curious about humans, and when she nears the nearsighted Schoolmaster he mistakes her for Miss Terynka. When he runs to embrace her, Sharp-Ear~ flees and he falls headlong into a fence and lies stunned. Father Alois comes along, quoting Greek, and also falls, then muses about his only love, a girl who falsely accused of making her pregnant. Now he mistrusts women and is all alone. suddenly there is a shout and Bartos appears, chasing the Vixen. The Schoolmaster wakes with a cry and both men crash noisily off into the woods, along with Sharp-Ears, and Bartos is left with a smoking gun and a mystery ."I'll bet that was OUf vixen! II he futnes.

Act 2, Scene 4. On a moonlit night, Sharp-Ears meets Golden-Stripe, a handsome male fox, and the two begin a nervous courtship. She tells him ofher life among humans and Golden- Stripe leaves while Sharp-Ears struggles with the strange new emotions that are torInenting her. Golden-Stripe returns with a rabbit and the two sit down to dinner. Re kisses her with growing passion and Sharp-Ears surrenders. The two go into the den as birds shriek about the scandalous behavior of the Vixen. Suddenly Sharp- Ears runs out, weeping, and whispers something to Golden-Stripe. " In that case," he says, "we'd better find a priest! " A woodpecker perforIns the ceremony and the entire forest bursts into a song of celebration.

Act 3, Scene 1. Rypolit Rarasta, the poultry merchant, meets Bartos on his way to market and tells him he is marrying Terynka. Then he shows Bartos a dead rabbit surrounded by fox tracks. Cursing Sharp- Ears, Bartos sets a trap for her. When the men have gone, Sharp-Ears and herentire family run out of the woods, laughing at the trap. The cubs run away to play and Golden- Stripe tenderly asks Sharp- Ears how many children they have and if they will have more. W ait until Maytime, promises Sharp- Ears. Rarasta's voice is heard and Sharp-Ears pretends to be injured, tricking the merchant. Rarasta falls, furiously grabs his gun and shoots. Sharp-Ears is left alone, dying.

Act 3, Scene 2. On Terynka's wedding day, Bartos and the schoolmaster are gloomily drinking in Pasek's Tavem. Mrs. Pasek comments that the bride has a new fox fur muff. Shocked, Bartos pays and leaves, explaining that he has to take Catcher for a walk, that his dog is getting old and helpless, just like the rest of them.

 

Act 3, Scene 3. Porester Bartos pauses in the forest. At peace with himself and with Nature, he recalls his youth. A vision of etemal springtime comes to him and he falls asleep in near-ecstasy. The animals creep out and a baby vixen appears, sniffing at a little frog. The Porester wakes and tries to catch her, but he finds himself with the frog instead. " I remember you! " he cries. Miraculously, the frog understands and answers him. That wasn't me, that was my granddaddy, he used to teIl me about y ou! The Porester also has understood, and the meaning ofthe miracle floods over him: in Nature there is no death, only etemal rebirth. The Vixen's words to Golden-Stripe ("Wait until Maytime!" are heard, transforIned by the orchestra into a hymn of promise, and the forester drops his gun to the ground. With head bowed, he stands overwhelmed. .
Author: Roberf Jones




First act, second scene



First act, fourth scene




First act, fourth scene




First act, fourth scene

Second act, second scene



first act, first scene, ballet

 



First act, third scene

 

 

    


Costume designs ; first act, fourth scene