Buryja, Jenůfa

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(Janáček: Jenůfa). Sop. Stepdaughter of the Kostelnička (who married Jenůfa's widowed father). She loves Števa and is expecting his baby, but he does not want to be tied down in marriage. Her stepmother, to avoid the shame and scandal of an illegitimate birth, keeps Jenůfa hidden away until she has had the baby. She then gives her a strong sleeping-draught, takes the baby, and drowns it in the icy river. Jenůfa awakes to find the baby gone—her stepmother tells her the baby died. Laca declares his love and Jenůfa agrees to marry him. When the ice melts, the baby's body is found. She expects Laca to leave her now he knows the truth, but he remains and, for the first time, Jenůfa admits she loves him. Aria (Jenůfa's Prayer): Zdrávas královno (‘Salve regina’). At the end of this opera, we see that, through her suffering, Jenůfa has attained a depth of understanding which enables her to forgive her stepmother. She realizes that the older woman's actions have been undertaken out of love and a wish to save Jenůfa from an unhappy marriage such as she herself had endured. Jenůfa is able to accept Laca's love and love him in return—they have both seen the depths to which humans can sink and have been able to rise above them. Maria Jeritza was the first Vienna Jenůfa and also the first to sing the role at the NY Met. In England one remembers Josephine Barstow (who sang it opposite Pauline Tinsley's superb Kostelnička and later took over the older role herself). Other exponents include Tiana Lemnitz, Gré Brouwenstijn, Libuše Domanínská, Gabriela Bečačkova, Lorna Haywood, Ashley Putnam, Roberta Alexander, Amanda Roocroft, and Karita Mattila. Created (1904) by Marie Kabeláčová.

Subjects: Opera.

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