Leos Janacek

Jenufa
 

ENUFA - Leoš Janáček
Published on Jul 1, 2014
Jenufa - Nina Stemme
 Kostelnicka Buryjovka - Eva Marton 
Starenka Buryjovka - Viorica Cortez 
Laca Klemen - Jorma Silvasti
 Števa Buryja - Par Lindskog Stárek 
 Rolf Haunstein Rychtár 
Enric Serra Rychtárka - Begoña Alberdi 
Karolka - Christiane Boesiger
Orquestra Simfònica i Cor del Gran Teatre del Liceu 
Peter Schneider, conductor 
Olivier Tambosi, stage director

Jenufa (Její pastorkyňa, "Her Stepdaughter" in Czech) is an opera in three acts by Leoš Janáček (1854-1928) to a Czech libretto by the composer, based on the play Její pastorkyňa by Gabriela Preissová. It was first performed at the National Theatre, Brno on 21 January 1904. It was written between 1896 and 1902, and counts among the first operas written in prose.
 

The first of Janáček's operas in which his distinctive voice can clearly be heard, it is a grim story of infanticide and redemption. Like the playwright's original work, it is known for its unsentimental realism. While today it is heard in the composer's original version, Jenufa's early popularity was due to a revised version by Karel Kovařovic, altering what was considered its eccentric style and orchestration. Thus altered, it was well-received, first in Prague, and particularly after its Vienna première also worldwide. More than 70 years passed before audiences again heard it in Janáček's original version.
 

Janáček wrote an overture to the opera, but decided not to use it. It was partly based on a song called Žárlivec (The jealous man). 
 

The composer dedicated the work to the memory of his daughter Olga (d. 1903), as he did his choral composition the Elegy on the Death of Daughter Olga.

Roles

JENUFA
 

 Opera in three acts by Leoš Janáček to a Czech libretto by the composer, based on the play Její pastorkyňa by Gabriela Preissová.


 

Jenufa    -soprano
Laca Klemeň   -tenor 
Števa Buryja    -tenor
Kostelnička Buryjovka    -soprano 
Grandmother Buryjovka    -contralto 
Stárek, the Mill foreman    -baritone 
Mayor    -bass 
Mayor's wife    -mezzo-soprano
Karolka    -mezzo-soprano
Jano    -soprano

Chorus:Recruits, servants, girls, villagers, musicians
 


Time: the nineteenth century
Place: A Moravian village

Premiere Cast, 21 January 1904

Characters

Jenůfa:
Sop. Stepdaughter of the Kostelnička (who married Jenůfa's widowed father). She loves Števa and is expecting his baby, but he does not want to be tied down in marriage. Her stepmother, to avoid the shame and scandal of an illegitimate birth, keeps Jenůfa hidden away until she has had the baby. She then gives her a strong sleeping-draught, takes the baby, and drowns it in the icy river. Jenůfa awakes to find the baby gone—her stepmother tells her the baby died. Laca declares his love and Jenůfa agrees to marry him. When the ice melts, the baby's body is found. She expects Laca to leave her now he knows the truth, but he remains and, for the first time, Jenůfa admits she loves him. Aria (Jenůfa's Prayer): Zdrávas královno (‘Salve regina’). At the end of this opera, we see that, through her suffering, Jenůfa has attained a depth of understanding which enables her to forgive her stepmother. She realizes that the older woman's actions have been undertaken out of love and a wish to save Jenůfa from an unhappy marriage such as she herself had endured. Jenůfa is able to accept Laca's love and love him in return—they have both seen the depths to which humans can sink and have been able to rise above them. Maria Jeritza was the first Vienna Jenůfa and also the first to sing the role at the NY Met. In England one remembers Josephine Barstow (who sang it opposite Pauline Tinsley's superb Kostelnička and later took over the older role herself). Other exponents include Tiana Lemnitz, Gré Brouwenstijn, Libuše Domanínská, Gabriela Bečačkova, Lorna Haywood, Ashley Putnam, Roberta Alexander, Amanda Roocroft, and Karita Mattila. Created (1904) by Marie Kabeláčová.

Eva Dřízgová - Zdrávas Královno (Jenůfa)

Laca Klemeň:

Tenop. Half‐brother of Števa Buryja and grandson of Grandmother Buryja. He is in love with Jenůfa (his cousin by virtue of his mother's second marriage, but no blood relation). He is jealous of his brother, whom Jenůfa loves. To make her less attractive to Števa, he impulsively slashes her face with a knife, an act he immediately regrets. He is told by his aunt, the Kostelnička, that Jenůfa has given birth to Števa's baby, which has died. He offers to marry Jenůfa and she agrees, although she does not truly love him. When her baby's body is found and her stepmother confesses to its murder, Laca, with great tenderness and understanding, stands by Jenůfa, wanting to go ahead with the wedding. She realizes that, through all their suffering, she has now found true love with Laca. Created (1904) by Alois Staněk‐Doubravský.

Steva Buryja:

Tenop. Half-brother of Laca Kleme?, grandson of Grandmother Burya. Like his half-brother, Števa is in love with Jenůfa (his cousin) and she is pregnant with his child. He is being interviewed with a view to going in the army, but is rejected, much to his relief. Jenůfa hopes this means they can marry, but Števa is in no hurry—he likes being free and attractive to women. The Kostelnička forbids any thought of their wedding until Števa has remained sober for a full year. After Jenůfa has given birth to their child, he makes it clear to her stepmother that he has no intention of marrying her and being responsible for the baby. Indeed, he is now engaged to Karolka, the Mayor's daughter. Created (1904) by Bohdan Procházka (usually known as Theodor Schütz).

Kostelnička Buryjovka :

Soprano. Widow of Grandmother Buryja's younger son, Tomáš, and stepmother of his daughter, Jenůfa. She is the Sacristan of the village church. Disapproving of Jenůfa's love for Števa, who drinks too much, she bans their wedding until he proves he can remain sober. This apparently unjustified severity towards her stepdaughter is explained when the Kostelnička's Act 1 aria is restored to her. In it she talks of her own unhappy marriage to Jenůfa's father, who drank and squandered her money. She wants to save her step‐daughter from a similar fate. Then she finds out that Jenůfa is pregnant and hides her away until after the birth, to avoid the shame which attaches to illegitimacy. Realizing that Števa does not want the responsibility of marriage and fatherhood, the Kostelnička pins her hopes on Laca. He would dearly like to marry Jenůfa, whom he has always loved, but he is reluctant to take on Števa's child. The Kostelnička, prepared to do anything for the sake of Jenůfa's happiness, drowns the baby and tells both Jenůfa and Laca that it died. Now the wedding can go ahead. But the baby's body is found and Jenůfa is accused of its murder, so the Kostelnička confesses. Jenůfa, realizing her stepmother acted out of love for her, forgives her, and she is taken by the Mayor to stand trial. Aria (now restored in most productions): A tak bychom sli celým životem (‘And that's how we might spend our whole life’). Created (1904) by Leopolda Hanusova‐Svobodová. Other exponents of the role include Naděžda Kniplová, Sylvia Fisher, Amy Shuard, Sena Jurinac, Astrid Varnay, Pauline Tinsley, Eva Randova, and Anja Silja. See also article by Sir Charles Mackerras.

JENUFA de Léos Janácek
Liceu OperaBarcelona
Published on Nov 9, 2009
Escena final del Acto 2
Nina Stemme (Jenufa)
Eva Marton (Kostelnicka)
Jorma Silvasti (Laca)
Orquestra SImfònica del Gran Teatre del Liceu

Grandmother Buryja:

Contralto. Owner of the local mill, grandmother of stepbrothers Števa and Laca and mother-in-law of the Kostelnička. Both her sons are dead: her elder son married a widow who already had a son (Laca) and they then had their own son (Števa). Her younger son (Toma) married and his wife bore him a daughter (Jenůfa). After his wife's death, he married the lady now known as the Kostelnička. Created (1904) by Vêra Pivoňková.
 

 

Karolka:

Mezzo-soprano. Daughter of the Mayor and Mayoress of the village. She becomes engaged to Števa after he has rejected Jenůfa. Created (1904) by Růžena Kasparová.

 

Jano:

Soprano. Travesti role. A young cowhand whom Jenůfa has been teaching to read. Created (1904) by Marie Čenská.

Leoš Janáček - Jenůfa 
Published on Dec 14, 2016

Roberta Alexander
Anja Silja
Philip Langridge
The Glyndebourne Chorus, The London Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Andrew Davis

Synopsis

The plot depends on a tangled set of village relationships. Before the opera begins, the mill-owner Grandmother Buryja's two sons have both married twice, fathered children, and died. Their wives have also died, except for the Kostelnička (widow of the churchwarden), the younger son's second wife and Jenůfa's stepmother. Custom dictates that only Števa, the elder son's child by his first marriage, will inherit the mill, leaving his half-brother Laca and cousin Jenůfa to earn their livings.

ACT I 


Jenůfa, Laca, and Grandmother Buryja wait for Števa to return home. Jenůfa, in love with Števa and secretly pregnant with his child, worries that he may have been drafted into the army. Laca, in love with Jenůfa, expresses bitterness against his half-brother's favored position at home. As he complains he plays with a knife and, finding it blunt, gives it to the mill foreman to be sharpened.
 

The foreman informs the family that Števa has not been drafted, to Jenůfa's relief and Laca's increased frustration. The others leave, and Jenůfa waits to greet Števa. He appears with a group of soldiers, drunk and boasting of his prowess with the girls. He calls for music and drags the miserable Jenůfa into dancing with him.
 

Then Kostelnička steps into this rowdy scene, silences the musicians and, shocked by Števa's behavior, forbids him to marry Jenůfa until he can stay sober for one full year. The soldiers and the family leave Števa and Jenůfa alone, and she begs him to love her, but he, unaware of her pregnancy, gives her casual answers and leaves.
 

Laca returns, as bitter as ever. He attempts to goad Jenůfa into criticizing Števa, but she takes her lover's side despite everything. Laca rages that Števa would never even look at her if it weren't for her rosy cheeks, then slashes her across the cheek with his knife.
 

ACT II
 

Months later, it is winter. The baby has been born, but Števa has not yet come to visit his child. Jenůfa's face is still disfigured, but she is happy in her love for the baby. While Jenůfa sleeps, the Kostelnička summons Števa and demands that he take responsibility. He answers that while he will provide money in secret, no one must know the baby is his. His love for Jenůfa died when Laca spoiled her beauty, and he is now engaged to marry Karolka, the mayor's pretty daughter.
 

Števa leaves, and Laca enters. He still doesn't know the truth about the baby, and when the Kostelnička tells him, his first reaction is disgust at the thought of taking Števa's child under his wing. Fearful that Jenůfa will be left with no one to marry, Kostelnička hastily lies that the baby is dead. Laca leaves, and the Kostelnička is faced with the necessity of making the lie true. She wraps the baby in a shawl and leaves the house.
 

Jenůfa wakes up and says a prayer for her child's future, but the Kostelnička, returning, tells her that the baby died while she slept. Laca appears and comforts Jenůfa gently, asking that they spend the rest of their lives together. Seeing the tenderness of the couple, the Kostelnička tries to convince herself that she has acted for the best.
 

ACT III
 

It is now spring, and Laca and Jenůfa's wedding day. All seems right again, except that the Kostelnička is a nervous wreck. Števa and Karolka visit, and a chorus of village girls sings a wedding song. Just then, screams are heard. The body of the baby has been discovered in the mill-stream under the melting ice. Jenůfa immediately says that the baby is hers, and in her grief appears guilty of the murder. The village is ready to exact immediate justice against Jenůfa, but the Kostelnička calms them and says that the crime is hers.

Hearing the whole story, Jenůfa forgives her stepmother. The crowd takes the Kostelnička off to jail. Jenůfa and Laca are left alone. Jenůfa asks Laca to leave her, as she cannot expect him to marry her now. He replies that he will not leave her, and that he wishes to spend the rest of his life with her.