Directed by David Pountney as part of WNO's "free spirits" theme this year, the show is billed to bring the beauty of nature and wildlife on to the stage when it stops off at Birmingham Hippodrome on March 7.
The tale follows a young Vixen as she is exploring the forest for the first time before being seized by a forester and forced to be brought up in his home. Outraged by the economic and sexual slavery of the hens at the house, she becomes a feminist and escapes before encountering a host of adventures and uses predatory means to survive.
Poutney says: "The Cunning Little Vixen is Janácek's joyous cartoon comedy which, at the same time, celebrates the natural cycle of life and death in a blaze of triumphant optimism."
He adds: "Janácek was an inspired dramatist, and Vixen is possibly the most brilliant example of complex dramaturgy in 20th-century opera, enabling him to compress a truly profound reﬂection on man's relationship to nature, the life-cycle, and the threat of death into 90 minutes of action, ﬂair and humour.
Every possibility of operatic expression is exploited by the composer – dialogue, strophic song, dance, choral writing, off-stage musical effects, interludes for orchestra alone, and each different technique deployed with absolutely unerring focus on its effect and its contribution to the drama.
Every detail tells its story and is appropriate to its place, and the whole is a masterclass in Gesamtkunstwerk that Wagner himself could have learnt from, especially in the matter of concision."
Cunning Little Vixen directed by David Pountney. Photo Bill Cooper