When a Forester takes a Vixen cub into his home, little does he realise what confusion and disorder this wild creature will create. A fantastical and beautiful journey unfolds to take both the Vixen and her lonely guardian on a transformational journey through emptiness, chaos, passion and ultimate self-discovery.

Perhaps the only opera inspired by a sharply observed and humorous comic strip. The Cunning Little Vixen is far from being cut or infantile. Set to the composer’s own libretto, Janáček extends and deepens the comic’s depiction of the inevitable cycle of life and death, writing music of enormous sensitivity, warmth and perception to a plot which addresses our own search for fulfilment, validation, and redemption.



The Forester stops off on his way home and falls asleep.
A Cricket and a Grasshopper appear, then a young Vixen approaches. Suddenly awoken by a Frog, the Forester sees the fox cub. He captures her and decides to take her home.

The Vixen has grown up in the Forester’s house, where life is hard: the Forester’s Wife hates her, the dog Lapák makes disgusting advances and the children mistreat her. When the Vixen takes revenge on a child, the Wife demands that the Vixen be tied up. In the middle of the night, half asleep, half awake, the Forester imagines a relationship with a beautiful young woman.

Reality returns at dawn. Horrified to witness the Hens’ submission to the desires of the male chauvinist Cock, the Vixen tries to incite a revolution, but in vain. So she fakes her own death, tricks the Cock and kills him. The Forester threatens to shoot the vixen, but she slaughters all the Hens and escapes.


The Vixen looks for a home in the forest. Finding the Badger’s lair to her taste, she kicks him out and takes up residence.

At the pub, the Forester, the Priest and the Schoolmaster play cards. The Forester teases the Schoolmaster about his love life. The Schoolmaster responds with mocking references to the Vixen. The Priest inveighs against all women. When the landlord raises the subject of the Vixen, the Forester storms off.

On the way back, the drunken Schoolmaster sees the Vixen, takes her to be Terynka, the woman he loves, and pours out his heart. The Priest arrives, and the sight of the Vixen evokes an unhappy love story from his youth. The last to turn up is the Forester, still in pursuit of the Vixen. Spotting her, he fires his gun, but she again escapes.


The Vixen meets a Fox: they fall in love and spend the night together. The following morning, the Vixen is shocked to discover she is pregnant. So the Fox takes her to the Woodpecker, who marries them. A big party ensues.


The poacher Harašta, out hunting, meets the Forester, who grows angry when he hears of Harašta’s imminent marriage to Terynka. Discovering a dead Hare, the Forester realises the Vixen is nearby and prepares a trap. But she, accompanied by her cubs, laughs at the foolish trick. Coming across the Vixen, Harašta fights her, and shoots her dead. The Forester stumbles across the body.

Back in the pub, the Forester and the Schoolmaster talk to the landlady about the Priest, who has moved to another parish. They also discuss Terynka, who will marry wearing a new fox-fur muff …

On his way back, the Forester reflects on his life, his youth and his marriage. When he sees a fox cub, closely resembling the young vixen he once possessed, he wonders whether he should capture her and take her home …


22, 25, 27 June and 4, 8, 12 July 2014
(OperaFirst - Monday 30 June)

Pre-Performance Talk
Tuesday 8 July – 5.15pm


Conductor Garry Walker
Director Daniel Slater
Designer Robert Innes Hopkins
Lighting designer Tim Mascall
Choreographer Maxine Braham

Forester Grant Doyle
Forester’s wife Lucy Schaufer
Schoolmaster Timothy Robinson
Priest Henry Waddington
Harašta Joshua Bloom
Pásek, innkeeper Aaron Cawley
Pásek’s wife Helen Anne Gregory
Pepík William Gardner *
Frantk Theo Lally *
Young Vixen Alexandra Persinaru *
Vixen Bystrouška Claire Booth
Fox Victoria Simmonds
Cricket Isaac Flanagan *
Grasshopper Sophie Thomson *
Frog Gabriel Kuti *
Mosquito Richard Dowling
Lapák, a dog Anna Harvey
Cock Alice Rose Privett
Chocholka, a hen Katherine Crompton
Badger Bragi Jónsson
Woodpecker Marta Fontanals-Simmons
Owl Grace Durham
Jay Elizabeth Karani
Hare Buster Dickinson *
Fox Cubs Emily Speed, Tanya Jayakar, Oliver O’Sullivan, Lulu Kwan, Theo Flanagan, Jeremie de Rijk, Sebastian Exall
& Joshua Kenney *
Vixen dancer Chiara Vinci
Forester dancer Jamie Higgins

Garsington Opera Orchestra & Chorus

Old Palace School & Trinity Boys Choir *

Sung in Czech with English surtitles

This production has been generously supported by The Constellation of Garsington.

2014 Ticket Prices

Book Tickets

Start time: 6.45pm
End time: 10.00pm

The 2014 Season is sponsored by JLT