Opera in three acts
Libretto by L. Janáček after the play by G. Preissova
Grandmother of Buryatia, mistress of the mill
Consolidated brothers, her grandchildren
Dyachikha, (the church watchman), widow,
The daughter-in-law of Buriysk
Yenufa, her stepdaughter
An old mill worker at the mill
Karolka, their daughter
Janek, the cowherd boy
musicians, mill workers, village residents, children.
The action takes place in a Czech village at the end of the 19th century.
HISTORY OF CREATION
In 1891, the premiere of the play “Her stepdaughter” by the young Czech writer Gabriela Preissova (1862-1946) was held at the Brno Theater. This is a life drama from the peasant way of life, exposing stagnancy and cruelty of morals in the remote abandoned villages of Moravia. The performance made a strong impression on Janáček. There was a plan for the opera. The composer decided to write the libretto himself. Very carefully referring to the text, he reduced only the details that slow the development of the action. The presentation was more laconic, the image of Dyachikha, the stepmother of the main heroine of the Yenufa drama, came to the fore. In 1895 the libretto was completed, and Janacek began to compose music. The opera was created immediately in the score, but work on it lasted until 1903.
The premiere took place on January 21, 1904 in the Old Theater in Brno and was accompanied by great success. In Prague, “Her
stepdaughter” was staged in 1916 in a new edition, and in February 1918, the premiere of the opera in Vienna.
The music “Her step-daughter” is distinguished by a bright national color, captivates with freshness and originality. Following the traditions of Dargomyzhsky and Mussorgsky, the composer permeated the musical language of the opera with recitation, turns that were close to real human speech. At the same time, the melodic richness of the Czech song folklore is widely used here, especially in extreme acts, most of which are assigned to differently varied mass scenes; the second act is the center of psychological drama.
Orchestral entry of the first act conveys the alarm and confusion of Enuf. The same nature of music is preserved in her monologue “Already the evening is near” with an expressive melodic melody. Monologue Latsy “You, Grandma…” imbued with bitterness, resentment. In the quartet of Enuf, Buryi, Latsa and the Worker, conflicting feelings are expressed that concern each of them. The recruit’s choir is written in the spirit of a stately song. The duet of Shteva and Yenuf is based on a sharp contrast of the soft, melodious lyrical intonations of the girl and the sharp, raspy, raspy cheers of the guy. The choir “As in the midst of the mountains of stone”, like a recruit’s song – a people’s warehouse, this time a dance one. The final – the dramatic culmination of the act (the scene of Latsa and Enuf) – concludes with an orchestra; The scene is divided into several sections; in the first (Laz mocked Enufoy), music is of a dance character; in the second – lyric – the light melodic melody dominates in the third – dramatically saturated – the fragmentary exclamations of the heroes are superimposed on the expressive orchestral part.
The orchestral introduction of the second act conveys a depressing atmosphere in Dyachikha’s hut. On the same musical themes, a subsequent dialogue between Enuf and Dyachikha was built. The scene of Dyachikha and Shteva is deeply dramatic; angry replicas of the old woman alternate with praying, full of fear and confusion, intonations Stevy. The dialogue between the Dyachikha and Latsi sounds alarming. Dyachikha’s monologue “Every moment” evolves from monotonous repetitive motifs through the melody of the prayerful warehouse to the ecstatic conclusion. In the monologue of Yenufa “Mamochka” different emotional states are compared – mental fatigue, depression, fear for the child, impotence. The tragic scene of Dyachikha and Yenufa is replaced by the enlightened duet of Yenufa and Latsa. Conclusion of the act – full of alarm monologue Dyachichi “I was looking at death…”
The introduction to the third act embodies the painful experiences of Dyachikha. The first half of the act is permeated with contrasts; depression, fear and anxiety are contrasted with the festive carefree mood that reigned around. The duet of Enuf and Latsa is bright and serene. The women’s choir “Oh, Mom, Mom” is happy. The scene of Diana’s recognition is deeply dramatic; her speech is intertwined with the agitated remarks of the choir and other actors. Ends with an opera duet of Enuf and Latsa – a wide-rasp, lyrically uplifting music, sounding and in orchestral imprisonment.