REVIEW: The Cunning Little Vixen at Glyndebourne

The Cunning Little Vixen
The Cunning Little Vixen

SHOW girls, stuntmen, ballet, an amazing and imaginative set, intriguing costumes and plenty of laughs are not what I expected from my first trip to Glyndebourne.

For The Cunning Little Vixen, with its examination of the cycle of nature and thoroughly modern language, is not your typical opera fare - there is no stuffiness here.

The Cunning Little Vixen

The Cunning Little Vixen

Instead there is plenty to keep you entertained and so much to look at sometimes you are so engrossed you forget to read the supertitles.

Included in the line-up, too, are plenty of local youngsters, with a third of the performers aged seven to 14.

A young spectator next to me was enthralled by the animals in the show and her face glowed with delight when she spotted children she knew on the stage.

Director Melly Still’s new production of the Czech composer Janáček’s work takes place around a tree symbolising a Moravian wood, a far cry from the opera house’s magnificent English gardens where the audience enjoyed a picnic in the glorious sunshine on Sunday.

In the forest, with its steep path or tunnel and slopes designed for sliding down, we were introduced to a whole host of animals, from a Frog to a Dog, and with some it took a while to guess from their clever costumes just what they represented.

My favourites, though, had to be the bevy of beautiful farmyard chickens, who had me in stitches as the cunning Vixen and Cockerel fought over them.

British sopranos Lucy Crowe and Emma Bell (a former member of the Glyndebourne Chorus) made their role debuts as the Vixen and Fox a great success.

The restless Vixen, in particular, gave a heartfelt performance and won the hearts of the audience.

The show’s human characters, their rural life and their sufferings are brought vividly to life, too, and all with the fine musical backing of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Cunning Little Vixen runs until June 28. Find out more at www.glyndebourne.com or call the box office on 01273 813813.

Nikki Jeffery

Photos by Bill Cooper