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Sun, 14. Feb 2021, 18:00

Opera in three acts by Leoš Janáček

The rigid morals of a village community put a young woman under pressure: Jenůfa is pregnant by her lover Števa, but he rejects her and retracts his offer of marriage. Once the child is born, Jenůfa’s stepmother, the village sextoness, is worried about the young woman’s reputation as well as her own future. When Laca, another marriage suitor, offers Jenůfa his hand in marriage, the sextoness thinks that life would be better for all of them without the child …

Leoš Janáček’s third opera, with its echoes of folk music from the composer’s native Moravia, was his first real success andwas given the sobriquet of »Moravia’s national opera«. Besides this, Janáček’s music has a special quality: while it explores psychological extremes leading to violence and infanticide, and lays bare characters’ emotions in an unsparing manner, no one is judged. His opera even ends with a final act of forgiveness – a moral that seems virtually impossible after the numerous gruesome revelations and admissions of guilt – and attests to Janáček’s humanist stance. »Jenůfa« (in Czech »Její pastorkyňa« – »Her Stepdaughter«) has a special relationship with the Staatsoper Unter den Linden: when it premiered in Berlin in 1924, its breakthrough on the German stage was assured. Following »From the House of the Dead», »Katya Kabanova« and, most recently, the »Glagolitic Mass«, Simon Rattle’s artistic engagement with Janáček’s chief works now continues with »Jenůfa«.