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The Cunning Little Vixen 1975

July 31 - August 13, 1975

A fable in which…

…animals act like humans and humans like animals…

Music By
Leoš Janáček
Text by the Composer after a short story By
R. Těsnohlík
English Translation By
Norman Tucker

Synopsis

Act I

Scene 1: “How· they caught the vixen, Sharpears.” The forest. Summer. A forester is lying asleep in the forest when he is awakened by a baby frog who has been frightened by a fox-cub. The Forester catches the cub and takes her home as a pet.

Scene 2: ‘”Sharpears in the yard of the Forester’s lakeside cottage.” Autumn. The vixen has grown up and is dissatisfied with her servile lot. She has no patience with Lapak, the dog, particularly when he makes advances to her. She is teased by Pepik and Frantik and bites them in return. She is tied up as a punishment and in her misery she dreams that she is free and is a real human girl.

Scene 3: “Sharpears the politician; Sharpears clears out.” Next morning she tries to incite the hens to feminist revolt against their rooster but without success, because they prefer their slavery to the unknown risks of liberty. She kills the rooster and causes havoc in the yard. She is attacked by the Forester and his wife and when the Forester cannot bring himself to shoot her, she escapes in the confusion.

Act II

Scene 1: “Sharpears he usurper of property” The Forest. Autumn. The Vixen evicts the Badger from his lair, and takes it over. He is mocked by the birds.

Scene 2: The Village Inn. The Forester, the Schoolmaster and the Parson are discussing women: in particular the Schoolmaster’s infatuation for Terynka, a gipsy girl in the village; the Forester unkindly reminds the Parson of his own peccadillo, the girl Verunka. However, inquiries about the escaped Vixen arouse the Forester’s wrath and the score is even. The villagers jeer at the Parson for becoming tipsy and he leaves the Inn, preceded by the Schoolmaster.

Scene 3: “Sharpears’ excursions.” That night, on the way home, the tipsy Schoolmaster mistakes the head of a sunflower for Terynka and declares his love for her. The Vixen is among the sunflowers and the Schoolmaster misinterprets her movements as an invitation to join Terynka.

As the Schoolmaster falls in a drunken sleep amongst the flowers, the Parson struggles along the muddy path. He is musing on the iniquities of his early love, Verunka, and says that he has never been able to look at a woman with an innocent eye, ever since then. Shots are heard and the Forester appears unsuccessfully pursuing the Vixen, whose coat he has sworn to make into a muff for his wife.

Scene 4: “Sharpears’ wooing and mating.” The Forest. Summer. Sharpears is  wooed and won by Goldenmane, the dog-fox, and the whole forest rejoices at the wedding.

Act III

Scene 1: “How Sharpears came within range of Harasta’s gun; Sharpears’ passing.” The edge of the Forest. Next Spring. Harasta is passing through the forest when he finds a dead hare but the Forester prevents him from taking it. Harasta reveals to the incredulous Forester that he is to marry Terynka. All around the hare are foxes’ spoors and the Forester sets a trap for Sharpears. He leaves, but Harasta resolves to return.

The fox family arrives to remove the hare and are both annoyed and amused when they discover the trap. The poacher returns with some birds he has poached and Sharpears lures him away from the basket. so that the family can eat the contents. The enraged Harasta shoots wildly into the middle of the fray and the Vixen, placing herself between the gun and her family. is shot dead.

Scene 2: The Village Inn. That evening, the Forester is describing his unsuccessful fox-hunt to the Schoolmaster who is in no mood to listen, as Terynka’s wedding is going on down the street. The Innkeeper’s wife informs them that Harasta has given Terynka a fox-muff and this news depresses the Forester who. in spite of his threats, is sad that the Vixen should have been killed. They realise that they are growing old: springtime merely serves to point the fact. The Forester goes off into the forest.

Scene 3: “Baby Sharpears.” The Forest. Spring. The Forester finds life going on as usual in the forest and thinks nostalgically of his early love for his wife when they walked in the same forest in Spring so many years ago. He muses on the prospect of Summer and rejoices that Nature is eternally reborn.

Again he sleeps and the forest comes to life as it was at the beginning of the story. Only Sharpears is missing. But a vixen-cub runs up and is “the image of her mother.” Once again a baby-frog awakens the Forester who thinks it is the same one as before; but that of course, was this one’s grandfather. Even in the Forester’s dreams the cycle of Nature is complete and repeats itself.

Artists

Santa Fe Opera

Barbara Hendricks

Soprano

Sharpears, grown up

William Dooley headshot

William Dooley

Bass-baritone

The Forester

Santa Fe Opera

James Atherton

Tenor

The Schoolmaster/ Lapák

Santa Fe Opera

Peter Strummer

Bass-baritone

The Parson/ The Badger

Santa Fe Opera

William Parker

Baritone

Harašta

Santa Fe Opera

Ashley Putnam

Soprano

Forester's Wife/ A Screechowl

Santa Fe Opera

Dana McMullan

Treble

Pepík

Santa Fe Opera

Robert Tate

Treble

Frantík

Santa Fe Opera

Dean Russell

Baritone

Pásek

Santa Fe Opera

Roseann DelGeorge

Soprano

Pásek's wife

Santa Fe Opera

Ellie Dendahl

Soprano

A cricket

Santa Fe Opera

Tim Walker

Treble

A Grasshopper

Santa Fe Opera

Charles Walker

Tenor

A Mosquito

Santa Fe Opera

Jacqueline Russell

Soprano

A Baby Frog

Santa Fe Opera

Karen Elworthy

Soprano

Sharpears, as a cub

Santa Fe Opera

Susan Peterson

Soprano

The Rooster

Santa Fe Opera

Valerie Saalbach

Soprano

The Hen

Santa Fe Opera

Vinson Cole

Tenor

Goldenmane

Santa Fe Opera

Marianna Christos

Soprano

A Jay

Santa Fe Opera

Robert Gray

Tenor

A Woodpecker

Santa Fe Opera

Robert Baustian

Conductor

Colin Graham headshot

Colin Graham

Director

Santa Fe Opera

Tony Walton

Scenic & Costume Designer

Santa Fe Opera

Georg Schreiber

Lighting Designer

Santa Fe Opera

Terry Lusk

Chorus Master