Sunday, May 13, 2018

Jenufa, Then and Now

I'll have a full post up about Santa Fe Opera's 2019 season eventually, but one of the two most interesting-to-me productions is David Alden's Jenufa, originally done at the ENO. I don't know most of the singers, but Patricia Racette as Kostelnicka Buryjovka would be enough to get me to Santa Fe next year, and the wonderful Susanne Mentzer is Grandmother Buryjovka.

I have fond memories of Racette's San Francisco Jenufa in 2001, and earlier this week, I took a look back and found that Joshua Kosman also liked it. (SFCV's review seems to have vanished into thin air, alas.) Here's Tim Page reviewing Racette as Jenufa in the David Alden production that Santa Fe will bring up; the great Jiri Belohlavek, may he rest in piece, conducted.

My second Jenufa, after Racette's, was that of Karita Mattila, in LA in 2007, in the Olivier Tambosi production we had in SF two years ago. I didn't like Mattila nearly as much as Racette; I could not see past her glamorous and womanly presence to the young and somewhat naive Janufa. Racette's vulnerability and the sweetness she brought to the role worked beautifully and she was heartbreaking. I also liked Malin Bystrom's steel-spined and fairly bleak Jenufa, which came at the role in another possible way.

Mattila, though, was an absolutely towering Kostelnicka in SF. I'm looking forward to what Racette does with the role. It will be different in interesting and thoughtful ways, I know.

For a look back at a great Kostelnicka of the past, take a look at this hair-raising excerpt with the great Astrid Varnay; I am linking to it rather than embedding it for possible spoilage. The entire performance, from 1970 and conducted by Rafael Kublek, is also on YouTube.

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