2019-02-08 / Arts & Entertainment

The adventures of a clever fox—an opera by Leoš Janácek

Contributed by Ellen Woodoff


The Cunning Little Vixen The Cunning Little Vixen Leoš Janáçek’s opera presents an image of an idyllic countryside filled with forest creatures and villagers. The Cunning Little Vixen, an opera in three acts, tells the tale of a little fox cub, captured by a forester, that grows to be a strong, independent vixen, breaking free into the wild, learning about the circle of life.

Opera at USC students are fortunate to have guest artist bass-baritone Kristopher Irmiter featured in the star role as the forester. Irmiter has earned broad critical acclaim for his vast range, both vocally and dramatically and is a Grammy nominated artist who has performed in all 50 states and throughout Canada. One of the most sought after low voices in the U.S., Irmiter has appeared with San Francisco Opera, Opera de Montreal, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Baltimore Opera, Atlanta Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Utah Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Opera Lyra Ottawa, Arizona Opera, and Florida Grand Opera among many others.

Director Ellen Douglas Schlaefer says about Irmiter, “We are thrilled that Mr. Irmiter was available to join us for our journey into this piece. Because he has done the role before and has an active performing career, our students have a unique opportunity to see life as an opera singer up close. He has been a joy to work with and a boon to our program. We’re especially happy to welcome Kris because he is a South Carolina native!”

The Cunning Little Vixen, sung in English, will be performed at Drayton Theatre, 1214 College Street, Friday and Saturday, February 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, February 24 at 3 p.m. Tickets are on sale now— adults, $25; seniors/USC faculty & staff/military, $ 20; students with ID, $ 10. Purchase tickets online at sc.edu/music/ .opera or at the door. Call 803- 777- 5369 for more information. Please note online and phone sales end at 3 p.m. on opening day. After that you may purchase at the door one hour before show.

The Cunning Little Vixen was first performed on November 6, 1924 at the National Theater in Brno, the historic capital of Moravia in the newly independent nation of Czechoslovakia. Janáçek fashioned the libretto for the opera himself from the novel, Liška Bystrouška ( Little Vixen Sharp Ears) by Rudolf Tésnohlídek, published as a serial in the Brno newspaper. Thanks to the reputation brought about by the international success of Janáçek’s 1904 opera Jen fa, The Cunning Little Vixen was performed in Prague the following year and Germany in 1927. By the mid-20th century, The Cunning Little Vixen was part of the repertory of 20th-century operas with enduring popularity.

Directed by Ellen Douglas Schlaefer, scenery by Joe Gardner, lighting designer is Chet Longley from UofSC Aiken, choreography by Mimi Worrell, and costumes by Jean Lomasto. The USC Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Neil Casey. UofSC student singers include Lauren Tomme and Juliana Galletti as The Vixen, Hannah Thompson as The Fox, Christopher Moore as The Schoolmaster, Craig Price as The Parson, Mary Lousie Layton as The Forester’s Wife, Todd Turner as The Badger, Caroline Miller as The Dog, and Tori Woodcock as The Hen. Young children were auditioned in the fall and six girls were cast as the Children’s Chorus.

Opera at USC offers a truly comprehensive program for both graduate and undergraduate students, covering every facet of opera production, both on stage and behind the scenes. Opera at USC is one of only a handful of colleges and universities nationwide that offers special training and practice for aspiring opera stage directors.

Return to top