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Published on Jun 8, 2008
At Harasta's wedding, the forester sees the vixen's fur, which Harasta gave to his bride Terynka as a wedding present, he escapes into the forest to be alone with his thoughts. He feels old and tired, he has missed out on life his marriage has lost the sparkle of first love. He is in the same place where he met the vixen; just as in the first scene he spies a little vixen, he guesses she is the vixen's own cub because she has the same ears. Just then another frog jumps into his lap, he realizes that the very beauty of nature lies in this cycle of life and death, his heart is filled with joy and wonder at the life of the forest surrounding him.
The Vixen is Janáček's most singular work and in many ways it is also his most charming. Based on a cartoon series by Rudolf Tĕsnohlídek which appeared in 1920 on the newspaper Lidové noviny, drawings by Stanislav Lolek, it tells the Tale of the Vixen Sharp-ears (the literal translation of the Czech title Příhody Lišky Bystroušky). Though it could be argued that the opera follows in the tradition of the German Märchenoper nevertheless the musical language and themes explored make it unique in the entire operatic repertoire. The parallel lives of the animals, who get on with the business of living (and dying), and the humans, who seem to live in a permanent state of regret and paralysis, unfolds in a rich tapestry of musical invention where Janáček uses musical material notated from nature to create a forest of sounds. Many of the climatic moments of the opera are orchestral rather than vocal and the opera is an inviting challenge for directors, singers and choreographer. The final message of the opera is, of course, optimistic, as is always the case with Janáček, celebrating the renewal of life in nature: the final words are given to a frog who says to the Forester "No, I'm not the one you think, that was my granddad, he spoke a lot about you". As in Kat'a Kabanova the Vixen has autobiographical inspiration in Janáček's muse Kamila Stösslová who is represented in two characters: the Vixen and Terinka the illusive gypsy girl whom the schoolmaster loves from a distance.