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Kostelnička


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(Janáček: Jenůfa). Sop. Widow of Grandmother Buryja's younger son, Tomáš, and stepmother of his daughter, Jenůfa. She is the Sacristan of the village church. Disapproving of Jenůfa's love for Števa, who drinks too much, she bans their wedding until he proves he can remain sober. This apparently unjustified severity towards her stepdaughter is explained when the Kostelnička's Act 1 aria is restored to her. In it she talks of her own unhappy marriage to Jenůfa's father, who drank and squandered her money. She wants to save her step‐daughter from a similar fate. Then she finds out that Jenůfa is pregnant and hides her away until after the birth, to avoid the shame which attaches to illegitimacy. Realizing that Števa does not want the responsibility of marriage and fatherhood, the Kostelnička pins her hopes on Laca. He would dearly like to marry Jenůfa, whom he has always loved, but he is reluctant to take on Števa's child. The Kostelnička, prepared to do anything for the sake of Jenůfa's happiness, drowns the baby and tells both Jenůfa and Laca that it died. Now the wedding can go ahead. But the baby's body is found and Jenůfa is accused of its murder, so the Kostelnička confesses. Jenůfa, realizing her stepmother acted out of love for her, forgives her, and she is taken by the Mayor to stand trial. Aria (now restored in most productions): A tak bychom sli celým životem (‘And that's how we might spend our whole life’). Created (1904) by Leopolda Hanusova‐Svobodová. Other exponents of the role include Naděžda Kniplová, Sylvia Fisher, Amy Shuard, Sena Jurinac, Astrid Varnay, Pauline Tinsley, Eva Randova, and Anja Silja. See also article by Sir Charles Mackerras.

Subjects: Opera.


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