By Keiran Potter
Going into The Cunning Little Vixen, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t even realise it was an Opera until the very last minute and I think I was better off for that. Instead of going in with a set idea of what would happen, the story unfolded in front of me like the vibrant pages of a fairy tale. It really was quite magical and equally as charming.
I think I originally had a very different and narrow perception of what an Opera actually was. I thought it would be serious and dramatic. I’m not saying it wasn’t those things but it was certainly much more than that.
Broken into three acts, this magical story follows a cast of forest animals but more specifically the Cunning Vixen herself. We follow her through her capture and escape from the Forester. We are then privy to how through her actions she inspires many, humans and animals alike. A story of two enemies becoming equals.
Another thing I truly wasn’t anticipating was the stunning set design and costuming. It had such a vibrancy and irreverent energy to it. The acting was phenomenal. The only thing I would say is, sometimes I was too busy captivated by what was happening on stage, that I forgot to look up to the small screen that subtitled the Czech Vocals. Nonetheless, the energy outgrew the language being spoken. Even when I missed something I could easily catch up, and enjoy the charming humour peppered throughout.
Even in its seemingly innocent portrayal of forest animals, this production had several strong messages which really did resonate, whilst still adding to the comedy at the same time. For instance, the Vixen at one point tries to rally the Hens, to rise up against the Cock whom is manipulating them, purely for their eggs. This scene had the audience in hysterics yet still held a powerful statement. The importance of challenging authority and pushing back against patriarchal oppression. The story had real heart, even when shrouded in humour.
I am probably not alone when I say, as a 21 year old, who happens to love theatre, I just didn’t think Opera would be my cup of tea. However, I spoke too soon and judged far too early, I was blown away and would encourage anyone who may be hesitant, to experience the magic for themselves.
I would highly recommend visiting the Spring Operas from WNO, coming to Theatre Royal Plymouth early next year, each production for one night only. An experience not to be missed. I promise you.