Interview with Marko Ivanović, the conductor of JENŮFA, National Theatre Brno

Interview with Marko Ivanović, the conductor of JENŮFA, National Theatre Brno


Janáček is such an interesting author that his work can be approached
in many different ways. This is actually my favourite opera, or at least one of my favourites. It is clear from the piece that it is a turning point in the history of opera in general, as well as a breakthrough work for Janáček – it is where the “traditional” concept of bel canto opera ends and Janáček´s specific style begins. This focuses more on the text and on dramatic meaning, and steers away from what I would call the traditional, clichéd aspects of opera. At the same time it is a mostly modern opera in the sense of dramatic truth. It noticeably demonstrates the beginnings of Janáček´s characteristic way of writing which matured in his later works, and so I took this second way, i.e. the way of certain truthfulness, the way of subordinating the music to the dramatic content of the opera. This is what makes Jenůfa interesting for me, in fact. The opera is full of tense moments, apart from the conclusion itself, which forms an indisputably emotional climax to the whole work. There is of course the moment there when Jenůfa learns
that her child has died – this is expressed with a sad but not pathetic melody that actually fades
into a solo tympani, which closes that part
in a special way. Kostelnička’s aria
is an admirable emotional and psychological study
of one person´s thinking in a tense situation. Then there is of course the famous “As if death were looking in here”, which is a very convincing and thrilleresque moment that hits most people hard, and I´m no exception. I think that the power
of our production lies in the cast. Pavla Vykopalová’s Jenůfa can be fragile,
can be vulnerable. It seems to me that Janáček´s moment has now come, and one of the reasons for this and one of the reasons for this
is the author’s great originality is the author’s great originality – he cannot be imitated. You basically have no layers there which could be associated
with the period when it was created, that might make us say, “OK, so now we’ll suffer
through the aria and then move on with the plot”. This is music which is simply timeless.

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