Janacek: Jenufa / Mattila, Silja, Hadley

Album cover art for upc 809274533029
Label: ERATO
Catalog: 245330
Format: CD

Karita Mattila, Anja Silja, Jerry Hadley, Eva Randova, Gail Pearson, Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra, Bernard Haitink

This new recording of Janácek's Jenufa might not replace the gold standard performance led by Sir Charles Mackerras, but it is superb in many ways. Anja Silja's portrayal here of Kostelnicka is epic; she makes us understand the misplaced morality of this troubled, troubling character--a morality that leads to catastrophe. She is positively hair-raising in the second act. Her hysteria actually makes the listener anxious. Similarly, as Jenufa, our heroine to whom nothing but bad luck and misery come until the very end, soprano Karita Mattila is radiant. One can read her thoughts and feel her feelings by vocal inflection alone, and she is in excellent voice, expressive from top to bottom. Jorma Silvasti is a fine Laca, filled with both remorse and love, singing with a beautiful lyric tenor. Jerry Hadley vocally acts the role of the playboy Steva well, but his voice seems to be in real trouble--worn and strained. Bernard Haitink leads with clarity and warmth, but the lucidity and understanding Mackerras brings to the score are missing. Even if you own the Mackerras, your collection is incomplete without Mattila and Silja, who bring their characters vividly, shockingly to life. --Robert Levine

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