The Santa Fe Opera

Skip to main content Skip to search

"Jenůfa" Receives its Santa Fe Opera Premiere on July 20

Media Contact: Emily Doyle Moore | 505-986-5908 |


The Santa Fe Opera Introduces Leoš Janáèek’s Jenùfa to Audiences for the First Time in the Company’s 63 Year History

View or Print Press Release (PDF)

Santa Fe, NM —  On Saturday, July 20, the Santa Fe Opera will introduce Leoš Janáček’s Jenůfa to audiences for the first time in the company’s 63 year history. A co-production between Houston Grand Opera, Washington National Opera and the English National Opera, David Alden’s production of Jenůfa, now adapted to the Santa Fe Opera’s stage, updates the mis-en-scène from an isolated, tight-knit community in 19th-century Moravia to an impoverished industrial section of Soviet-era Czechoslovakia. Alden’s staging won the 2007 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Opera Production when it was produced at the English National Opera, and its 2016 revival there received additional critical acclaim. The Independent gave it a five-star review, headlining it as “brilliantly effective.” The Sunday Times proclaimed, “David Alden’s staging…takes this coruscating music-drama a notch higher, turning the screw of the drama inexorably, shatteringly, ultimately movingly. Janáček’s uplifting conclusions…is one of the most beautiful ‘happy ends’ in opera.”

Jenůfa centers on a terrible crime — the drowning of the title character’s newborn infant in an icy river. Jenůfa’s stepmother Kostelnička commits this unspeakable act out of a sense of fear, misguided morality, and perhaps most shockingly, out of a sense of love in hoping to give her stepdaughter a better life. Remarkably, the opera’s overriding theme is forgiveness, as Jenůfa reacts not with calls for vengeance, but with tender absolution — a scene set to some of Janáček’s most radiant music. The Rough Guide to Opera states, “Janáček’s operas are amongst the most powerful, accessible and distinctive ever written: once he had found his voice in Jenůfa, his personal style — terse, lyrical, pungently characterized, full of colorful orchestration and rhythmic bite — was recognizable in every bar he wrote. Though Janáček was born the year after Verdi completed La traviata, his best music belongs decisively to the 20th-century: the last four operas and several other masterpieces were composed in an astonishing burst of creativity in the last decade of his life.”

The Santa Fe Opera’s first showing of Jenůfa brings Music Director of the Canadian Opera Company Johannes Debus to the pit in his Santa Fe Opera debut. American soprano and former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Laura Wilde will once again assume the title role in her company debut, having also performed it for London audiences in the ENO’s 2016 revival. American soprano Patricia Racette, the original Jenůfa when this production first appeared in Houston and Washington, will debut the role of Kostelnička. American mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer returns to the Santa Fe Opera stage in the role of Grandmother Buryjovka. The rival half-brothers will be sung by Australian tenor Alexander Lewis as Laca, making his company debut, and American tenor and former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Richard Trey Smagur as Števa. Former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Will Liverman sings the role of the Foreman at the Mill. Charles Edwards (scenic design), Jon Morell (costume design), and Duane Schuler (lighting design) round out the Creative Team. Susanne Sheston serves as Chorus Master.

Jenůfa is the fourth of five mainstage shows in the Santa Fe Opera’s 2019 Season.

The 2019 Season

The 2019 summer festival runs from June 28 to August 24 and will present five operas in 36 performances, a special Santa Fe Opera debut concert by celebrated American soprano Renée Fleming with the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra led by Music Director Harry Bicket, and two Apprentice Scenes performances. The 63rd Season, the first to be led by General Director Robert K. Meya, Artistic Director Alexander Neef and Music Director Harry Bicket, explores classic works of the repertory as well as operas new to the Santa Fe Opera and the world’s stage.

About The Santa Fe Opera

Lauded by The Wall Street Journal as “the Rolls-Royce of American summer opera festivals,” the Santa Fe Opera annually draws 85,000 people from New Mexico and around the globe. Nestled atop a mountain vista in northern New Mexico, the company’s iconic Crosby Theatre offers a nightly seating capacity of 2,126. The covered theatre is open on three sides, allowing visitors to enjoy performances complemented by the elements. Since 1957 the company has presented over 2,000 performances of 168 operas by 87 composers, including 15 world premieres and 45 American premieres.

Media Resources For Jenůfa

High-Resolution Imagery*
Director’s Notes from David Alden
“Beyond the Opera” Podcast: Preparing for new roles and the evolution of a career with singing actress Patricia Racette
Jenůfa, Leoš Janáček’s earliest operatic masterpiece by SFO Dramaturg Cori Ellison
Jenůfa Production Detail Page
Press Tickets Request Form

*Please note that high-resolution imagery is available for press and editorial purposes only. Please inquire for a password by writing to


Music and Libretto by Leoš Janáček
From Moravian Peasant Life
Premiered January 21, 1904, National Theatre, Brno

5 Performances: July 20 & 24; August 2, 6 & 15, 2019
Sung in Czech with opera titles in English and Spanish
A new Santa Fe Opera production adapted from the English National Opera staging
A Company Premiere
Production support generously provided by The Wyncote Foundation and Robert L. Turner

Creative Team

Conductor: Johannes Debus*
Director: David Alden
Scenic Design: Charles Edwards*
Costume Design: Jon Morrell
Lighting Design: Duane Schuler
Choreography: Maxine Braham*
Chorus Master: Susanne Sheston


Jenůfa: Laura Wilde*+
Kostelnička Buryjovka: Patricia Racette
Grandmother Buryjovka: Susanne Mentzer
Laca Klemeň: Alexander Lewis*
Števa Buryja: Richard Trey Smagur*+
Foreman: Will Liverman+

The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra and Chorus

*Santa Fe Opera debut, +Former Santa Fe Opera Apprentice

The mission of the Santa Fe Opera is to advance the operatic art form by presenting ensemble performances of the highest quality in a unique setting with a varied repertory of new, rarely performed, and standard works; to ensure the excellence of opera’s future through apprentice programs for singers, technicians, and arts administrators; and to foster an understanding and appreciation of opera among a diverse public.

Laura Wilde as the title role in Jenůfa at The Santa Fe Opera. Photo by Ken Howard