interlude between the scenes, oscillates between
a mood of sadness and a mood of restlessness,
probably intended to represent the mixed state
of mind of the little vixen in captivity.
The same theme serves for both: (A) and (B)
of 87 generate further motifs.
No. 87 is
a motif of longing and No. 87A-an impatient
version of 87-a motif of rebellion: the repetition
of the wailing 3/8 a diminution in an echoed
2/4 version seems to indicate the futility
of rebellion-the frustration of an impotent
rebel. After some development of this agitated
motif there is a pause, and with the notes
marked x in No. 87 in triplets, thundering
out ever louder and faster in lower strings
and winds, the music breaks off inconclusively.
is the yard of the foresterís house by a lake.
It is late evening in autumn. Sharp-Ears is
lying in front of a dog kennel, side by side
with Lapák, the dog of the house. Some hens
are scratching about in the yard. The forester
steps out of his house for a moment, addressing
his dog affectionately. His wife pours milk
into a dish for the animals, remarking irritably
that the place is simply crawling with fleas.
A moment later the animals are alone.
(A of 87-in
its triplet form-alternates with the whole
of 87.) The young vixen howls (to B of 87)
while Lapák tells her he has had enough of
her wailing: he, too, is a lonely soul but
gives expression to his feelings by singing
sad songs of his own making to the moon. His
master beats him for this and, he adds regretfully,
in spite of his songs he still has had no
experience of love. Sharp-Ears confesses that
she, too, is innocent though she learned a
few things from the chatter of the starlings
who nested in trees above their den. The parent
birds were either squabbling or talking scandal
all the time and the young ones were little
better: one was having an affair with a young
cuckoo (cuckoo call on a flute), another was
obliged to pay a magpie alimony in hazel-nuts,
and the eldest daughter-an ugly, dirty creature-was
carrying on with a handsome young raven. The
vixenís gossip begins softly with this innocent-of-love
four-note motif, taken over from Lapákís last
along as a pattern in notes of half value
as Sharp-Ears tells of the scandalous family
of starlings, accompanied by other delightful
orchestral bird noises including a woodpecker
theme at the piu mosso on p. 28. Her talk
on the amorous goings-on of the birds has
excited Lapák and he makes a pass at her.
Sharp-Ears, however, knocks him down and the
disappointed dog creeps dolefully into his
kennel (a repetition of the plaintive No.
young son enters with a friend to whom he
wants to show off his new pet. The foresterís
son catches the vixen and holds her up for
inspection: his friend pokes a stick under
her nose asking if she bites. Sharp-Ears growls
angrily that she is no dog-what do they take
her for? The boy hits the vixen on the nose
with his stick and Sharp-Ears flies out at
them, biting the foresterís son in the leg.
She runs towards the wood with the boys chasing
after her. The forester and his wife rush
in, the wife telling her husband that it is
time that they got rid of this smelly brute.
The forester deftly catches Sharp-Ears, ties
her up, and boxes his sonís ears for teasing
the vixen. Sharp-Ears moans again (to C of
No. 87) as Lapák follows his master and mistress
into the house and the two boys slink away.
When the boys
enter, the orchestra plays a skipping two-note
figure which contrasts with this curiosity
of A No. 86, Act I. The action is swift and
the music moves equally speedily to a climax.
There is a host of interesting detail: the
indignation of the vixen, the blubbering of
the boy whose leg she has just bitten, and
the loneliness of Sharp-Ears are etched with
simple, direct strokes in the voice lines.
The pathetic No. 87 wails out as the little
vixen gives vent to a howl.
orchestral interlude begins quietly with B
of No. 87 as an ostinato figure in the bass
while the first bar of 87 is heard high up
on violins and harp. Night has fallen.
indicated in his score that during this interlude
Sharp-Ears should be transformed into a beautiful
young girl-presumably the gypsy, Terynka,
who is spoken of as the femme fatale of the
schoolmaster, the parson and the poacher.
This is Garnettís Lady into Fox in reverse.
As, however, Terynka herself never appears
in the opera, it is very doubtful if this
identification of the vixen with the gypsy
girl has any real meaning to an audience:
in any case, the parallel duality is open
to question, Terynka being a wanton and Sharp-Ears
a faithful wife and devoted mother.
It is perhaps
safer to see in these inspired pages
hymn to nature-the passing of night, the infinite
variety of animal life in the forest, the
coming of dawn, the miracle of the rising
sun. Janáček once said that his themes grew
out of the soil, out of the animals, out of
the people and somehow linked themselves insolubly
with these objects. "I am astonished
at the tens of thousands of the existing phenomena
in the world of rhythm, colour, light, sound
and touch", he wrote: "when my music
fuses with nature it becomes rhythmically
alive, eternally young."
3 THE CUNNING
SHARP-EARS ENSNARES CHICKENS BY TALKING POLITICS
is the same as before. Lapák tells Sharp-Ears
that she should have followed his example
and not tried to escape (this bouncing little
figure in the orchestra)
wife appears with food for the chickens. The
cock remarks spitefully that at one time little
foxy used to chase them, now she is fettered
and thatís because she is a useless creature-why,
she cannot even lay an egg (chattering, four-fold,
rhythmic structure-one being 89)! He turns
on his brood and like Chaucerís Chauntecleer,
urges them to keep on working hard at laying
eggs. The hens dutifully retort in chorus
that they are laying eggs. (A short humorous
"ballet" with this clucking chromatic
theme on voices and orchestra.)
the chief hen, encourages her sisters by executing
a series of egg-inspiring coloratura trills.
swoops in to the attack. "Listen, sisters",
she says, darting up, "what good is this
cock of yours? You merely serve his pleasure!
The existing social order is degrading! Down
with it! Letís build a better world where
all are equal, happy and contented!"
"But", reply the giggling hens,
"how could we manage without .... a cock?
""He grabs the best of everything",
argues Sharp-Ears, "and what is left
over . . . you get"
chattering semiquaver figures worked up in
the orchestra) .
The cock is
smart enough to see through the vixenís plot
and warns the credulous hens to keep their
distance-a fox is their natural enemy. The
hens agree and obey: when the sly vixen, however,
pretends to bury herself in sackcloth and
ashes-in mourning, she assures them, for their
helpless slavery-the innocent Chocholka tells
them to "go and look if our wronged sister
is dead". As the chickens run up inquisitively
Sharp-Ears springs up suddenly and catches
the cock. Chocholka screams and the hens scatter.
The foresterís wife rushes in and belabours
the vixen, exclaiming maliciously that the
only use she has for a fox is to make a muff
out of its skin. Sharp-Ears tries frantically
to break away from the rope with which she
is tied up. She screams defiantly that she
is not afraid of the forester even if he is
twice her size. "Wait till I hit your
snout!" the forester retorts angrily:
"And I yours, "the vixen screams
back at him. She bites furiously into the
rope with her sharp teeth, frees herself and
makes a mad dash to freedom, somersaulting
over the forester and knocking him over.
mock burial, the hens, torn between fear and
curiosity, are characterised in music of sly
good humour and audiovisual accuracy, as is
the resulting confusion with the wife screaming
her, you fool! ", the little vixen laughing
derisively and the orchestra playing rushing
scales and other excitable sounds. Sharp-Ears
escapes to a surging-up of happy chortling
and Music of Act II
The four subsequent
adventures of our lively little heroine are:
lays claim to someone elseís property.
gets herself talked about.
is wooed and won.
LAYS CLAIM TO SOMEONE ELSE S PROPERTY
first scene of Act II is monothematic, being
based on the theme we hear at the beginning
of the prelude and its jerky accompanying
figure. It begins in a thoroughly business-like
manner-in the whole-tone scale-gradually shading
off into a quieter presentation of the theme
in D flat major,
with the four-note
figure (marked A in 94) as counterpoint. At
curtain rise, these parts are reversed, figure
A powerfully declaimed on top with the theme
itself in the tenor voice. Later the two perfect
fourths at B are woven into a swift demisemiquaver
We are back
in the forest as at the beginning of the opera.
Sharp-Ears is looking enviously into the den
of the badger. The bad-tempered badger resents
her presence, calling her a dirty, flea-ridden
tramp. The vixen retaliates by saying he is
a braggart, lounging around like a gentleman,
taking things easy.
and small wood animals are the vixenís friends
and they back up her attack on the badger.
"Thereís plenty of room in his den for
three", Sharp-Ears continues provokingly,
"and here he is wallowing like a cow
in clover and resenting anyone even so much
as talking to him." "Shame on you!
Shame on you! "the animals add reproachfully.
Goaded by these unjust taunts, the badger
turns angrily on the vixen, telling her to
clear off or he will call a policeman, and
he aims a few kicks at her. The vixen provokes
him still further by telling him he is a miserable
old miser, a smelly old reptile, and that
it is he-not she-who will end up in prison
one of these days! All the animals take sides
with Sharp-Ears and harass the poor badger
even further by indignantly repeating all
her insults. The vixen follows this up by
raising her tail and fouling the badgerís
den, at which the indignant owner jumps out
and saying tearfully that this is no place
for decent folk, he shuffles off into the
wood with his pipe tucked under his arm.
is now no longer homeless but the possessor
of a fine home which she surveys triumphantly.
dotted rhythm of 94 at C continues almost
without a break, accompanying-among other
things-the first four bars of the principal
tune in a compressed version.
As the badger
goes off in disgust, the orchestra plays a
new allied motif of indignation
into and beyond the following orchestral interlude.
In a stage direction Janáček asks that typical
tavern noises should filter through from the
inn, which is the set for Act II, Scene 2.
The intermezzo begins with the lively
forte on violins,
alternating with an embroidered piano variation
of the same tune and continues in a brisk
prelude pattern until the curtain rises.