A Jenufa joins the legends of a centuryNews
Some thoughts arising from watching Covent Garden’s Jenufa, available on slippedisc.com for the rest of the month.
Asmik Grigorian is an epic Jenufa in a lineage that stretches back on the world stage to Maria Jeritza in 1924. Neither naive nor weak, she sings through her love and agony with power and beauty, underscored with an irresistible humanity. Her performance, unforgettable, joins memories of Sena Jurinac, Marie Collier, Elisabeth Söderström, Gabriela Benackova and more.
Karita Mattila as the stepmother brings the wisdom of ages, having long sung the role of Jenufa herself. Despite some struggle early on with the low notes, she is an admirable foil to Jenufa’s innocence, achieving cruel self-knowledge in tiny steps.
Nicky Spence is a tad bumptious as hapless Laca and Saimir Pirgu is rather stiff as Steva. But this is an opera about women; the men are almost incidental.
Where the production turns problematic is when Claus Guth gets fussy, cluttering the composer Leoš Janáček’s clean lines with fashionable inessentials such as a row of beds in a dormitory and a crow sitting on top of a birthing crate. Why do we let directors undermine operas with detritus?
Ignore the clutter. This is an opera of total immersion, a work of genius, stunningly acted and sung.
ROH website promo pic