Few families are as dysfunctional as that at the heart of Janáček’s Jenůfa . But while the Czech composer’s breakthrough work can boast alcoholism, knife crime and infanticide among its chamber of horrors, it also preaches a message of toleration, acceptance and, crucially offers a lesson in forgiveness that raises it above its verismo counterparts to the level of Greek drama.


Italian director Damiano Michieletto’s thoughtful staging for Berlin’s Staatsoper unter den Linden (filmed February 2021) shines a particularly intense light on the family dynamics while shifting the work from its traditional roots in the Bohemian countryside to the present day. The empty auditorium and socially distanced chorus dotted around the stalls and balconies suggests it was a minor miracle that it got on at all, but we should certainly be thankful it did as it boasts an outstanding cast of singing actors and an instinctual and sensitive reading of the score courtesy of the Staatskapelle Berlin and Sir Simon Rattle.

Michieletto sets the action inside a series of shimmering, frosty...