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The Cunning Little Vixen at Birmingham Hippodrome - Review

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by Alison Brinkworth (subscribe)
Freelance journalist in Birmingham with a passion for the dynamic theatre, art, food and fashion scene in Britain's 'Second City'.
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Cunning Little Vixen is a fun opera with bite
The songs and music in the Cunning Little Vixen may not include memorable outstanding arias, but what this opera lacks in recognisable tunes, it makes up for in fun and frivolity.
Cunning 1
The Cunning Little Vixen is a fun, enchanting opera

Taking the audience away to a green and pleasant land where the lives of woodland animals are as important as the locals who live there, this opera by the Welsh National Opera (WNO) was awash with colour and adventure.

Children dressed as frogs, squirrels and fox cubs were enchanting throughout and made it seem like the most well-produced school play ever.

Janácek's opera is almost a pantomime comedy of characters. At the centre is the lovable vixen, who is captured as a cub by the forester, and manages to escape using her wild spirit and natural instinct to kill. We then follow her further adventures in love and motherhood.

Sophie Bevan is outstanding as the Vixen, changing over the two hour performance from innocent to cunning, sexual and later, motherly. She manages to make you care for the lovable rogue and her ultimate fate.

Director David Pountney adds plenty of humour to this production, and the choreography of all the various animals is well thought out. The hilarious chickens in particular steal the show in the first half of the opera. Then there are the birds nesting in the trees, calmly knitting in rocking chairs above the action.

What he also does is use plenty of dance as well as song. The insects perform ballet style routines as they flit across the landscape at daybreak, adding another dimension to this production.

Ultimately, you may not come away from this opera humming the songs, but what you will do is leave the theatre with a smile on your face and a little happier at the joyful scenes you have encountered.

The WNO production of Cunning Little Vixen continues to tour the UK:
Venue Cymru, Llandudno
14 March
The Mayflower, Southampton
21 March
Milton Keynes Theatre
27 March
Theatre Royal, Plymouth
4 April
See www.wno.org.uk/vixen for ticket information.
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Why? Fun and enchanting opera
When: Touring in March
Phone: 029 2063 5000
Where: Birmingham Hippodrome
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