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Jenufa [Import]

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Playback Region 2 :This will not play on most DVD players sold in the U.S., U.S. Territories, Canada, and Bermuda. See other DVD options under “Other Formats & Versions”. Learn more about DVD region specifications here

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Product Details

  • Format: Classical, NTSC, Import
  • Language: Czech
  • Subtitles: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Arthaus Musik
  • Release Date: Jan. 25 2011
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B0041UG6AI
  •  Would you like to update product info, give feedback on images, or tell us about a lower price?

Product Description


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa2f19804) out of 5 stars 0 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2514e58) out of 5 stars Great music, great acting - slightly strange production! Aug. 6 2011
By Michael Ewans - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A good new Jenufa was urgently needed, as the Glyndebourne version was very disappointing from Nikolaus Lehnoff (director of a masterly Kát'a Kabanová with Nancy Gustaffson in the title role). In his production there was a strange addition to the ending - the villagers wrecked the Kostelnicka's house in the final bars, totally destroying the upbeat mood of the music as Laca and Jenufa decide to join their lives together; and this reviewer was, I confess, quite unable to cope with 'colour-blind' casting - a black Jenufa in a Moravian 1890s village otherwise composed of Caucasians struck a strange note.

So to the present DVD, a production originally from the Hamburg State Opera but filmed on revival at the Gran Teatre de Liceu in 2005. The singing and acting is of a very high level throughout; all four principals are outstanding both as singers and as actors - Nina Stemme in the title role, Eva Marton as the Kostelnicka (every scene involving either of these two women, which is most of the opera, was riveting); Jorma Silvasti as Laca and Pär Lindskog as Steva.

There are two problems with this DVD, but I don't think either should put you off buying it. First Peter Schneider conducts a powerful reading of the score; but he is hampered by using the now discredited Dürr edition, which incorporates most of the reorchestrations which were forced on Janacek as a condition of having Jenufa produced at the National Theatre in Prague in 1916. To hear Janacek's original score in all its raw (and uncut) power, you have to go to the Decca CDs conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras.

Secondly, Olivier Tambosi is one of those directors with an idée fixe! He has noted the recurring image of a stone falling, which occurs memorably in Jenufa's dream in Act 2 and becomes literal reality when the villagers threaten to stone her in Act 3, wrongly believing that she has murdered her own baby. Playwright Gabriella Preissová certainly deployed this image, but it is by no means dominant in her play or in the libretto which Janacek adapted from it. But Tambosi makes it dominate. In Act 1 there is a large rock starting to burst through the boards of centre stage, and in Act 2 it has evidently burst through completely, as a huge boulder is the only set item for an Act supposedly set in the Kostelnicka's living room. Act 3 is also set by Preissová and Janacek in that living room, but the rocks are still the only set items - this time a number of them, largish and smaller, and a number of handy stones for the villagers to pick up when they accuse Jenufa of child-murder.

To be quite honest, this is unnecessary and unwanted. To make sure that Jenufa's dream is seen as a premonition of her persecution in Act 3, Tambosi even mistranslates in the subtitles what the Kostelnicka sings when she hears her daughter crying out. And numerous parts of the opera which cry out for naturalistic props can't get them. True, Jenufa has (and makes effective use of) her pot of rosemary in Act 1, but there isn't e.g. a knife handy for the Kostelnicka to seize in Act 3 when she momentarily contemplates suicide.

But you should still buy this. At the everyday business of opera directors - making movement, expression, posture and gesture tell the story and illuminate what the music is saying about the characters' feelings - Tambosi is masterly. Get used to the boulders and you will enjoy a fine production of one of the most dramatically powerful of all operas - for Jenufa is right up there with Wozzeck and Elektra.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2fddcf0) out of 5 stars The Last Great Opera of the 19th Century ... Feb. 23 2011
By Gio - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
... or the first great opera of the 20th? Leos Janacek's "Jenufa" has a fair claim to both titles, the one indisputable quality being its greatness. It's Janacek's most passionate and dramatic opera, with an integration of vocal and orchestral music into a symphonic wholeness that exposes the Czech composer's theoretical indebtedness to Wagner. That, and its pious/perfunctory allusions to Christian salvation, are its 19th C attributes. The bold sexual explicitness of its libretto, written by the composer himself, and the even bolder chromaticisms and dissonances of its orchestration, are its claims to modernism. Janacek composed "Jenufa" in bits and pieces throughout the 1890s, but the work's originality was too strange for the opera company of Prague, which rejected it. It was premiered in Brno in 1904, and only later in Prague and Vienna, in a version trimmed and re-orchestrated by the music director Karel Kovaroivich. Thereafter, like all of Janacek's operas, it suffered neglect for decades. Proper recognition of Leos Janacek's stature has been tardy, but today five of his operas are staged regularly and triumphantly on every major operatic stage of Europe and North America: Jenufa, Katia Kabaonova (1921), The Cunning Little Vixen (1924), The Makropoulos Case (1926), and The House of the Dead (1927). Excellent performances of all five are available at last on DVD.

Jenufa is a tale of seduction, jealousy, abandonment, and infanticide, set in a quiet country village in Moravia. This production, by the Gran Teatre del Liceu of Barcelona, maintains the folkloric ambience demanded by both the libretto and the music, in costuming and dramaturgy though the physical sets are minimal and symbolic. Jancek incorporated not only authentic Czech melodies but also the distinctive aesthetics of Czech folk music into his symphonic score. There are four central characters: Jenufa, the beautiful stepdaughter; her stepmother Kostelnicka, a stern, domineering widow of village prominence; and her two foster "brothers" Steva and Laca. It's Steva who impregnates Jenufa but evades marrying her, while it's Laca who disfigures her out of mad jealousy but loves her unreservedly. Steva is handsome, dissolute, irresponsible, and charming. Laca is dour and plodding. The strongest spirit in the family is the fierce Kostelnicka, whose determination to save her stepdaughter and herself from shame leads to her downfall.

Kostelnicka is powerfully sung and acted by the acclaimed aging Wagnerian superstar Eva Marton. In this production, as well as on the other available DVD of Jenufa, it's Kostelnicka who dominates both the drama and the musical passion. Fortunately, Nina Stemme sings the role of Jenufa every bit as powerfully, and acts her role as emotively as Marton. That isn't the case, by the way, on that other DVD, where Anja Silja is magnficent as Kostelnicka but Roberta Alexander is inadequate as Jenufa, both dramatically and vocally.

Laca is sung by Jorma Silvasti, whose gorgeously ample voice and convincing stage presence thrust his role to the forefront of every scene in which he appears. In short, he nearly steals the show. The wastrel Steva is a lesser man in every way, and the role of Steva is smaller than Laca's; Pär Linskog sings and acts Steva effectively, but he's overshadowed musically by Silvasti.

Eight minor characters and a chorus of villagers complete the vocal cast, all singing more than adequately. One of the joys of this DVD is the exquisite balance between the singers and the orchestra, fully integrated with each other in acoustic presence. The Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, conducted by Peter Schneider, plays with clarity and transparency, and without any of the late-romantic schmaltz that often fuddles the complex sonorities of Janacek's music on other recordings.

There's a solid exegesis of Jancek's philosophical-musical intentions in the notes to this DVD, which I'll quote: "Janacek's moral ideology is influenced by a specific vison of nature. His understanding of tragedy is not marked out by the classical concept of sin. It is in nature that Janacek found a cyclical transcendency that had a deep effect on his work. There is no pessimistic view of human nature in Jenufa .... there is always rebirth and hope as premised by nature ... amid the stones scattered over the stage, amid the traces of the tragedy that has befallen her, a new beginning for Jenufa's life is sealed." Hey, I couldn't say it more clearly myself; in Janacek's operas and music, the Sublimity of Life always prevails.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa25e36f0) out of 5 stars ROBERTA ALEXANDER - A SUPERB JUNUFA April 25 2012
By John F. Cahill - Published on
Format: DVD
I disagree with the reviewer of this Jenufa. The staging, singing, and dramatic portrayal are all excellent in the Jenufa with Silja and Alexander.
Alexander gives a powerful and sympathetic portrayal of Jenufa and her singing is outstanding. This is the Jenufa to buy.