The Cunning Little Vixen - a new film
This new film of Janáček's opera The Cunning Little Vixen
was shown on the BBC a few years ago. It is available on DVD, and be purchased via the
Discography page. This magical new version of Janáček's
much-loved opera has been specially
created for BBC Television. It combines the talents of international
conductor Kent Nagano and acclaimed animation designer and director
Geoff Dunbar. The visual style is derived from the drawings by Stanisláv
Lolek in the original 1920s newspaper strip which inspired Janáček
to write the opera.
Kent Nagano and Christophe Durrant have created a new edition of the
music, which is performed by the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and an
international cast of young soloists from the European Opera Centre,
including Christine Buffle, Grant Doyle, Richard Coxon and Keel Watson,
with Blue Peter presenter Matt Baker singing the role of Lapák the Dog.
They are joined by singers from the New London Children's Choir and the
Some things you might want to know about Janáček and his opera
Leoš Janáček was born, the ninth of thirteen children, on 3 July 1854 in
a village called Hukvaldy in the Northern Part of the Czech Republic.
His father was a teacher at the local school. Although he spent the
first years of his life deep in the Czech countryside, he went to
boarding school in the city of Brno, where he was a choir boy at the
Monastery. After finishing he studies Janáček himself took over running
the choir and started composing music for them.
Although Janáček spent most of his early life writing music, it wasn’t
until his 1904 opera Jenůfa that he was really well-known. After
the opera was performed at the main National Theatre in Prague in 1916,
Janáček became a celebrity and his music soon started to be performed
further a field. Spurred on by his success, Janáček started to compose
countless more pieces, of which the opera The Cunning Little Vixen
The Cunning Little Vixen is based on a cartoon which was printed
in Janáček’s local paper in Brno. He found out about the cheeky little
cartoons when his maid laughed so loudly it disturbed him from composing
in the next room. He then went on to collect all the cartoons, and the
following year, when a novel of the cartoons was published, the composer
started to write his opera.
When Janáček began writing an opera about little Vixen Sharp Ears he
went back to his birthplace in Hukvaldy (where he had bought a small
cottage) to listen to the birds singing and watch the foxes playing in
the woods. Janáček wasn’t used to being camouflaged so the animals
couldn’t see him and one time he set off dressed in a white suit. His
friends laughed at his clothing, so he changed into something less
bright. When they eventually found the foxes Janáček fidgeted so much
that he frightened them all away.
Janáček completed The Cunning Little Vixen in 1924 at the age of
seventy. He went on to compose two more operas, The Makropulos Case,
about a 335-year-old woman, and From the House of the Dead, about
a prison in Siberia in Russia, but The Cunning Little Vixen
always remained very dear to him. When he died in 1928 the final scene
of the opera was played at his funeral. Today, near where Janáček was
born in Hukvaldy (and where he went to see the foxes playing in the
woods) there is a statue of Vixen Sharp-Ears.
Order the new DVD of the film by
DVD also includes:
• Award-winning animator Geoff Dunbar and the making of The Cunning
• Illustrated booklet in three languages (GB/D/F)
More information on the DVD can be found at the
BBC Opus Arte website.