Janacek: Jenufa / Roocroft, Polaski, Schukoff, Bolton [Blu-ray]

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Note: This Blu-ray Disc is only playable on Blu-ray Disc players and not compatible with standard DVD players. Also available on standard DVD Grandmother Buryja...
Note: This Blu-ray Disc is only playable on Blu-ray Disc players and not compatible with standard DVD players.

Also available on standard DVD

Grandmother Buryja – Mette Ejsing
Laca Kleme? – Miroslav Dvorský
Števa Buryja – Nikolai Schukoff
Kostelni?ka Buryja – Deborah Polaski
Jen?fa – Amanda Roocroft
Foreman – Károly Szemerédy
Mayor – Miguel Sola
Mayor’s wife – Marta Mathéu
Karolka – Marta Ubieta
Shepherdess – María José Suárez
Barena – Sandra Ferrández
Jano – Elena Poesina
Aunt – Marina Makhmoutova

Teatro Real Chorus and Orchestra
Ivor Bolton, conductor

Stéphane Braunschweig, stage director

Recorded live at the Teatro Real, October 2009.

- Cast gallery
- Illustrated synopsis

Picture format: 1080i High Definition
Sound format: LPCM 2.0 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish
Running time: 136 mins
No. of Discs: 1 (Blu-ray)



JANÁ?EK Jen?fa Ivor Bolton, cond; Amanda Roocroft ( Jen?fa ); Deborah Polaski ( Kostelni?ka ); Miroslav Dvorský ( Laca ); Nikolai Schukoff ( Števa ); Teatro Real Ch & O OPUS ARTE OA 1055 D (DVD: 128:00); OA BD 7089D (Blu-ray: 128:00) Live: Madrid 12/22/2009

The liner notes for this 2009 performance from Teatro Real Madrid remark on the verismo qualities of Jen?fa, but the conductor and singers here tap into the very Wagnerian character of the work. Like some Ring cycles of earlier eras, the booklet prints a family tree, reminding us that Jen?fa is related by blood to both of the men in her romantic life, Števa Buryja and Laca Klemen; this is a family unit worthy of comparison to the good folks of Valhalla. Kostelni?ka is a Wotan-like presence, at once arrogant (in her misguided belief that a carefully conceived plan can circumvent an unwanted outcome) and profoundly sympathetic because of her weaknesses. Deborah Polaski, who has portrayed most of the demanding Wagnerian soprano roles over her distinguished career—she was 60 when this performance was filmed—is a commanding presence in the part, which in many ways is more critical to the dramatic resonance of the opera than the title character. Her singing is powerful and expressively colored. Justifiably, Polaski receives the loudest demonstration from the audience at her curtain call.

The rest of the cast is excellent as well. The English soprano Amanda Roocroft represents Jen?fa as a naive, fragile victim—during her act I musings over the possibility that Števa won’t marry her, her distress over the potential for a lifetime of shame is palpable. Nikolai Schukoff nails Števa’s loutish cluelessness. He’s not aware of what a charmed life he leads and we can understand why his half-brother detests him for that. Miroslav Dvorský, singing Laca with a Puccinian splendor, evolves before our eyes and ears from his bitter, impulsive state in act I into an exemplar of unconditional love later on; his duet with Roocroft that closes the opera is quite moving.

Ivor Bolton leads a top-notch orchestra idiomatically, disclosing both Janá?ek’s distinctive musical syntax and the Wagnerian overtones. (Listen to the cello passage right before Laca and Jen?fa’s act II duet and just try not to think of Die Walküre ’s opening act.) The production, a cooperative effort with La Scala and based on an earlier one from Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, is spare but often visually striking. The video quality isn’t particularly high-def—there’s the feel of mid 1980s videotape, the 1080i video specification notwithstanding. The multichannel audio is very dimensional and spacious, significantly more involving than the quite respectable stereo option. The booklet lacks a track listing (of course, you can pull it up onscreen, but who wants to do this while viewing the opera?) and there are no extras other than the standard plot synopsis and “Cast Gallery.”

FANFARE: Andrew Quint

Product Description:

  • Release Date: September 27, 2011

  • UPC: 809478070894

  • Catalog Number: OA BD7089D

  • Label: Opus Arte

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Composer: Leoš Janáček

  • Conductor: Ivor Bolton

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Madrid Teatro Real Chorus, Madrid Teatro Real Orchestra

  • Performer: Amanda Roocroft, Deborah Polaski, Mette Ejsing, Miguel Sola, Miroslav Dvorsky, Nikolai Schukoff