Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

Hurried 'Jenufa'; harried 'Division'; luminous Leontyne; 'Freischutz'

Until recently, Leos Janacek's richly imagined opera, ''Jenufa,'' went about in the garb of another composer's orchestration. Turn-of-the-century musical politics in Prague kept it unperformed until a more powerful composer could monkey with it in 1916.

Well, last weekend ''Jenufa'' came to Boston adorned with Janacek's own orchestration (at least partly; some of the 1916 re-orchestration was used). But it also came laden with a frequently awkward and unbecoming English translation. And while the city owes conductor David Stockton a debt of gratitude for premiering this challenging work here, the performance he led Sunday night left ample room for an original-language version that would also take account of the subtlety and nuance the opera offers.

About these ads

Stockton and company did the necessary business of putting this important work in the flesh before us. Some marvelous voices - most notably, Lorna Haywood as Jenufa and Pauline Tinsley as Kostolnicka - were on hand. The grand sweep of musical colors and ideas rushed through Jordan Hall.

But the subtle shadings of Janacek's orchestral palette were frequently lost in garish overload. There was the hot breath of hurry about the thing. And the concert-opera format was a bit strangling.

It is a tribute to Janacek's craftsmanship that, for those unfamiliar with ''Jenufa,'' Sunday night was still a stunning introduction to the most popular work of a composer who has, until quite recently, been all too neglected. But a work like this deserves more than a quick introduction.

Perhaps, someday soon, we will see it here - all burnished, and perfect, and dressed right for the occasion.

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.