Based upon a Czech newspaper comic strip and subsequent novel, Leoš Janáček’s delightful The Cunning Little Vixenis an opera for all ages, one whose themes hold perhaps even greater relevance today. The tale of a young vixen, Sharp Ears, who has been caught and raised by humans only to escape into the woods, is a cautionary tale wherein the animals of the piece are wiser than the humans. Directed by the company’s Artistic Director Stuart Maunder, Janáček’s delightful romp is a dream bursting into the Technicolor woods where the animals are smarter than humans – where they understand and converse with each other, whilst the humans of the piece are ignorant and presented in dull shades of predominantly black, grey and earthen colours.

Antoinette Halloran and Desiree Frahn in State Opera of South Australia’s  Cunning Little Vixen. All photos © Bernard Hull

Already seen by audiences in Victoria and Western Australia, Maunder’s Vixenis a highly imaginative romp, providing the perfect visual accompaniment to Janáček’s score which brings together Straussian radiance in its arias and duets, Moravian folktunes in the animal’s ensemble settings and Stravinskian spikiness. There is so much to take...