HER STEPDAUGHTER

All eyes in the village are on Jenůfa. Her fiancé sees only a trophy wife. Her rejected suitor sees a chance to avenge the most cutting wrongs in his past. Her righteous stepmother sees her own life’s tragedy about to play out again for her child. The results are two unspeakable crimes which lead to the opera’s true theme—that the wounds of troubled lives can be assuaged through acceptance, forgiveness, and hope. Janáček’s music pulses with vibrant rhythms, pungent harmonies, and lyrical declamation.

Johannes Debus conducts David Alden’s English National Opera staging, which won the prestigious Olivier Award for Best New Production. In its 2016 revival, The Independentgave it a ★★★★★ review, headlining it as “brilliantly effective.” The Sunday Timesproclaimed, “This revival takes (Alden’s) coruscating music-drama a notch higher… Janáček’s uplifting conclusion is one of the most beautiful ‘happy ends’ in opera.”

Witness love’s triumph. Read

BACKGROUND

Števa and Laca are half-brothers. The younger Laca resents Števa’s good looks, his inherited wealth (due to an “eldest-boy-gets-the-most” tradition), and his success in winning of the hand of Jenůfa, whom Laca also loves. Jenůfa is pregnant with Števa’s child, and he faces a possible draft into the army. Jenůfa has kept the pregnancy a secret from everyone, including her widowed stepmother, Kostelnička (The Sacristan)—a title earned from her religious service, and her unyielding beliefs.


ACT I: FALL

Jenůfa is worried; if Števa is drafted, they can’t wed before people realize she’s pregnant. Laca alternates between mocking Jenůfa and complaining about his lot in life. The foreman tells Jenůfa that Števa wasn’t chosen. She is overjoyed by the news, while Laca is angry. A drunken Števa arrives with new inductees and some musicians. They celebrate, singing and dancing until they’re interrupted by Kostelnička, who proclaims that Jenůfa and Števa can’t wed until he has stayed sober for an entire year. Števa leaves after reassuring Jenůfa that he will be faithful to her, despite his roving eye. Laca, nearly crazed with his passion for Jenůfa, tells her that Števa is interested only in her beauty. They quarrel and Laca cuts her face with his knife.


ACT II: LATE WINTER

Kostelnička has told everyone that Jenůfa left for a long stay in Vienna; in actuality she has given birth to a boy, with mother and son now in hiding at Kostelnička’s home. She gives the exhausted new mother a sleeping remedy and then summons Števa, who has not been seen in months. He agrees to support his son financially but refuses to marry Jenůfa, due to her scarred face, and runs off. Laca appears briefly, and Kostelnička suddenly tells him the baby has just died. Alone again, Kostelnička imagines her shame and disgrace, then comes to an abrupt decision: “I’ll send the boy back to the Lord!” She grabs the child and runs out into the cold. Jenůfa awakens and begins praying for her missing baby. Kostelnička comes back and tells Jenůfa that she has slept for two days, during which the baby died and Števa refused to marry her. Laca returns, asks Jenůfa to marry him, and she agrees.


ACT III: SPRING

The family and guests arrive for the wedding. Just as the ceremony begins, a cry goes up—a dead baby has been found, frozen under the ice. Jenůfa recognizes the baby as her son. As the villagers accuse her of murder, Laca protects her. Suddenly, Kostelnička admits her guilt and kneels before Jenůfa, saying, “there’s been enough disgrace and torment already.” she raises her stepmother and asks that she be given time to atone for her misdeed. As Kostelnička is taken away, Jenůfa tells Laca that he should leave, but he refuses to abandon her: “Nothing in the world matters, as long as we are together.”

Buy tickets for:

August 2,2019 8:00pm

August 6,2019 8:00pm

August 15,2019 8:00pm