4. Interview with Oliver Till, Conductor

Firstly, what’s it like interviewing yourself?

Can we please try and focus on the task in hand?

What’s happening recently?

I’ve just finished arranging Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld for St Paul’s Opera Clapham (>55,000 notes), am currently editing Guido’s arrangement of The Cunning Little Vixen – which is an exciting challenge. Last month I celebrated Monteverdi’s 450th birthday by performing Tancredi in Allen Hall seminary. Last week my orchestra brought to life an orchestral project with music by Steve Reich and Rameau. Next week there’s a concert of Madrigals and Chansons with my choir in North London (including 3 new arrangements). Looking forward to a recital with my fiancee this summer, playing an early CPE Bach concerto in November and conducting Brahms A German Requiem later this year.

Ok that’s enough, tell us about The Cunning Little Vixen; what’s special about this work?

Oddly it’s probably the first Opera to be inspired by a cartoon from a local newspaper…

dcekpsmxcaa0exyHowever special? That’s probably different for everyone, but for me I love how Janacek depicts the spirit of the forest, its inhabitants: the animals, the useless humans, and the interaction between the three.

Put simply, it’s a short story (100 mins) of life & death, innocence and experience, inequality & feminism, both young and old love, with endearing characters ranging from the fuddy-duddy Badger (who doubles as the Priest) to our crafty heroine: Vixen sharp-ears.

A multifaceted work able to be read on different levels, the story seems to appeal to everyone differently but personally. Also importantly, as stories go, it’s not ignorant, ill-informed, or preachy (yet it’s full of symbolism) and it doesn’t claw at your emotions but simply draws the audience in, encouraging empathy.

Empathy; that’s nice…

Sarcasm? How original.

Moving on… what other pieces of Janacek should I listen to?

Try some chamber music if you’re in a light mood…

Capriccio for Piano Left Hand and Wind Ensemble

Pohádka (Fairy Tale) for cello and piano

Or for something completely different…

Kacena divoká (The Wild Duck), for chorus

Osud (Fate) suite for orchestra

Or if you’ve got 10 mins spare and can stomach some odd pantomime check out the dramatic (soap opera) end of Janacek’s final opera, set in a prison:

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3. What is Grimeborn?

Bold new versions of classic operas. Rarely-seen and long-forgotten works. Brand new pieces from the most exciting up-and-coming composers, musicians and companies. Since 2007, Grimeborn has played host to over 160 shows. Over July and August this summer, experience the 11th anniversary festival: new productions in and around Arcola Theatre. The programme is diverse and the tickets kept around £15. Whether it’s your first or your latest opera experience, you’ll be right at home at Grimeborn 2017.

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2. Cast Announced!

Fox edited

We are delighted to announce our wonderful cast, truly some of the finest young singers around. We’ll be bringing you more from them over the coming weeks and months.

Alison Rose Vixen
Camilla Farrant Frog, Grasshopper, Forester’s Wife, Fox Cub
Beth Margaret Taylor Fox / Dog
Tim Langston Schoolmaster / Rooster / Inkeeper / Woodpecker
Oliver Gibbs Forester
Ashley Mercer Priest / Harasta / Badger

Remember to save the following performance dates in your diary:

Monday 31 July 2017, 7.30pm
Tuesday 1 August 2017, 7.30pm
Thursday 3 August 2017, 7.30pm
Friday 4 August 2017, 7.30pm

We’re already hard at work putting the show together, of which more soon.

1. Welcome to the Vixen Blog!

We are delighted to announce our new production of Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen – opening at the Arcola Theatre, London on Monday 31st July 2017. Over the next couple of months we’ll post articles, interviews and updates on this blog.

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One of the cartoons which inspired Janacek to write his favourite opera.

It’s definitely the most exciting theatrical project we’ve ever undertaken; we can’t wait to share the experience with you this Summer. Thanks for reading!!

Guido Martin-Brandis
Oliver Till