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…
However 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…
Or for something completely different…
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: