himself free from Kostelnička’s embrace and
tells her brutally and callously (in a restless
Presto solo which keeps hammering out a semiquaver
rhythm) that he is finished with Jenůfa, has
no interest in the child and is indeed frightened
of her and her austere and stern stepmother-a
whirling ostinato of demi-semiquavers from
figure : the climax is reached when the
horrified Kostelnička, in a wild outburst
of resentment, shouts: "Števa! "on
a top B-flat, at the same time as Jenůfa,
from the other room, calls in her drugged
sleep that a great rock is pressing on her.
The cowardly Števa slips hurriedly away.
for the scene between Laca and the stepmother
is equally rhapsodic, beginning with another
again recounts the story of her stepdaughter’s
misfortunes, a quieter theme is introduced:
but soon gives
way to a wild and passionate outburst as she
thunders out her terrible lie-the child no
longer lives. After Laca has left, Kostelnička
sighs wearily, then works herself up to a
passion of new madness as she decides to throw
the child into the river.
stress is so great in this act and is kept
up so consistently that the solo violin heard
at Jenůfa’s half dazed entry is particularly
welcome as a relief to the heavy, dramatic
orchestration, repeated closely detailed figuration
which precedes and follows it: so, too, is
the lullaby-like prayer to the Virgin over
a restful B major triad, although this also
displays agitation on the return of Kostelnička.
rhapsodic style of the music is again resumed,
rising to even greater heights of anger; again
relieved by the pathos of Jenůfa’s lamentations
for the death of her little son:
appear, and as soon as they have served their
immediate purpose in Janáček’s musical commentary,
are discarded, to be replaced by others. The
love scene between Jenůfa and Laca begins
on a much-needed quieter tone with Jenůfa’s
speech-curve, "Dekuji ti, Laco" 
("Thank you, I.aca, for all the good
thoughts you had about me in my absence"),
into the orchestra.
love is deep, sincere and passionate: he embraces
her and kisses her wounded cheek ; yet
in the midst of Laca’s fidelity, and Jenůfa’s
gentle submission, a worm of discord creeps
a mighty avalanche of despair as the wretched
Kostelnička realizes to what extremity she
has gone to secure happiness for her stepdaughter.
Murder will out, cries the voice of conscience,
and cannot be stifled.
of Act III
modest wedding preparations going on in the
same room in Kostelnička’s house, which we
saw in the second act two months earlier.
A white table-cloth covers the table, on which
are glasses, a bottle of wine and a plate
of cakes. A pot of rosemary and rosemary twigs
tied with white ribbons add other local touches
her best dress, is sitting quietly in her
chair holding a prayer-book. A bridesmaid
is helping her dress, placing a shawl over
her shoulders and fastening her headgear.
Laca stands near, while the grandmother sits
at the table. The stepmother, looking ill
and worn out, paces the room restlessly.
asks Jenůfa why she is so sad. Jenůfa smiles
a denial and Laca quickly adds that there
is no reason at all why his bride should be
sad: he assures her that he will always be
kind to her. Most brides fear the loss of
their freedom, the bridesmaid continues; in
fact she felt that way herself before her
own marriage, yet how unnecessary it all was,
for she got a good and honest man for a husband.
starts in alarm: "What is that noise
outside? Who is it coming?"
opens the door to admit the Mayor and his
wife, the first guests to arrive for the wedding.
"God be with you", he greets Kostelnička;
but noticing her agitation, adds "You
are surely not afraid of us? You have known
us long enough in all conscience. Karolka
and Števa will be along presently."
and bridegroom rise to welcome their distinguished
guests, and the bridesmaid offers them a drink
and a sprig of rosemary. The Mayor turns sympathetically
to Kostelnička: she always was so full of
life! May she soon be like that again-and
he drinks to her good health.
my daughter is marrying a good man today,
so why should I worry?" says Kostelnička,
pulling herself together.
Yet for some
time past she has not been able to sleep at
night and things weigh heavily on her: at
times she feels that she does not want to
go on living.
off these morbid fears, she discusses Jenůfa’s
wedding-dress with the Mayor’s wife, who ventures
to consider it rather too plain, not gay enough
for a young bride. Kostelnička invites them
to come into the bedroom to see for themselves
the splendid trousseau which she has made
for her stepdaughter’s wedding.
alone, the lovers are strangely quiet for
a moment. Laca offers flowers to Jenůfa, which
she pins to her jacket, saying as she does
so that he really deserves a better bride.
Laca admits frankly that the news about Števa’s
child was a shock to him, but he forgave her
right away, for after all it was he who had
done her so much harm in the first place and
he promises to try and atone for that wrong.
He knew that she loved Števa, but is glad
that she does so no longer. All his life he
has envied his halfbrother, but now that Jenůfa
has made peace between them, all jealousy
has left him and he has gone so far as to
invite Števa and Karolka to their wedding-why!
Here they are.
gaily and wishes the bride and bridegroom
good luck, long life and happiness, saying
that it will be her turn next to stand before
the altar. Števa is embarrassed, but Jenůfa
insists that the brothers shake hands and
become friends again. "You, Števa, have
your handsome face, and Laca has his fine
soul", she says seriously.
no more compliments about Števa’s good looks
", the Mayor’s daughter interjects merrily;
"on that account he is conceited enough
as it is, I can assure you! " There is
some further small talk. She and Števa are
to be married in a fortnight-"unless,
of course, I change my mind ", says Karolka
teasingly: "some people do keep warning
me not to marry the man."
I shall have to kill myself", exclaims
Števa with what appears to be unnecessary
vehemence. Jenůfa calms him down-Karolka is
the right girl for him all right and she wishes
them every possible happiness.
and his wife re-enter, much impressed with
what they have seen of the trousseau. At the
sight of Števa, the stepmother becomes momentarily
frightened, thinking he has come here to make
trouble. Laca, in an undertone, quickly reassures
her that he has come at Jenůfa’s request.
from the mill enters with a group of prettily
dressed young girls: they have come to offer
their good wishes to the bride and groom:
"We wish you both as much happiness as
there are raindrops in the sky." They then
sing a marriage song full of charm and gaiety:
Hey, mamma, mamma,
Have a new dress made,
for soon I shall marry!
Hey, daughter, daughter,
Do forget about marriage
for you are still
Hey, mamma, mamma,
You were also young
when you went a-marrying!
(English translation by
Peter C. Sutro)
hands a bouquet to Jenůfa, while the Mayor
compliments the girls on their delightful
performance. Laca reminds them that they all
have to be at church at nine sharp and the
couple kneel down to receive the grandmother’s
blessing. They turn again and kneel before
As she raises
her hands to bless them, angry voices are
heard outside and she backs away in fear.
A cow-hand rushes in saying that the people
are looking for the Mayor: men from the brewery
were cutting ice and found a dead child under
it. The child was wrapped in a blanket and
had a red cap on its head. They brought it
ashore, it seemed alive! People are very excited,
many of them weeping.
runs out, followed by everyone except the
two old women and Števa, who stands as though
is heard outside claiming that the child is
hers. Laca drags her aside, beseeching her
to control herself-this is a dangerous situation,
people are listening.
throws him off and laments over her dead baby.
How could they carry the child to the ice,
bury him without a coffin, without a prayer,
without a wreath?
have turned ugly: this woman has killed her
child-she should be stoned. The Mayor asserts
his authority, while Laca threatens to kill
anyone who lays a hand on his bride.
intervenes: they must know the whole truth.
It was she who killed Jenůfa’s child. Her
stepdaughter never went to Vienna as a servant.
She kept her hidden for many months in this
house. She herself drugged Jenůfa, took the
child, carried it to the river and pushed
it under the ice. It was at night-the child
did not utter a sound. She felt a burning
pain in her hands and since then has known
herself to be a murderess. She told Jenůfa
the child had died while she lay in a fever:
"Have mercy on her. Do not blame her!
She is innocent! Judge me! Stone me! Miserable
so overcome with grief that she turns away
angrily from her stepmother; then realizing
that it was misguided pride and love for her
which was at the root of the crime, she attempts
to comfort her.
Now that Števa
is revealed as a weakling and worse, Karolka
refuses to marry him.
Laca is overpowered
with guilt, for it was his rash, jealous attack
with his knife on Jenůfa’s face which made
her repulsive to Števa.
begs forgiveness from Jenůfa, for she realizes
she loved herself and her family pride more
than the happiness of her own daughter. "God
be with you, mother. God be with you, mother!",
Jenůfa cries out as the Mayor takes Kostelnička
by the arm and leads her away.
and Laca remain: "You can see how impossible
it is for you to join your life to mine? You
disfigured my face, but I forgave you for
that long ago. You sinned because you loved
too much-just like me," she confides
But Laca convinces
her that they can find happiness together.
What do they care for the world’s scorn, so
long as they have each other? "Oh! Laca,
my heart", replies Jenůfa; "Love led
me to you, that great love which God smiles
of Act III
introduction to the wedding scene is again
a masterpiece of mood painting: the plodding,
alternating two major thirds (whole tone scale)
in the first twelve bars, with the brighter
have a touch
of forced gaiety about them which persists
even when two new sprightly dance rhythms
and fall into
(B) is a variant
of No. 220 (and of 208 B) which itself intrudes
forcefully into the melody line, where for
the next thirty-seven bars the bagpipe pedal
figure (C) keeps the dance rhythms alive.
B of No. 221 is extended, closing with a perfect
cadence (a rare phenomena in Janáček) into
A major, and horn and trumpet, with the ponderous
crotchet beats of the opening, participate
in a general fade-out; after which there is
a reprise of the first twelve bars of the
dance section (beginning with No. 221) brought
to a flourishing conclusion in the key of
C sharp minor.
When the curtain
rises, we hear No. 220 six times in the orchestra,
more subdued, slower, quieter and tinged with
melancholy. As the bridesmaid says comforting
words to Jenůfa, No. 221 (B) is played softly
in the orchestra, combined with a "rocking"
becomes more robust with the entrance of the
Mayor, who toasts Kostelnička’s health with
love for Jenůfa is expressed in the most tender
of tones, even when the guilt motif worms
its way in the bass, and there is a certain
undercurrent of agitation in the music when
she declaims fatalistically: "Long life
would be a horror-and after that-what?"
which may momentarily remind us of the end
bars of Iago’s Credo in the Boito-Verdi Otello
but the treatment is, as always with Janáček,
entirely his own.
As she recovers
herself and discusses Jenůfa’s wedding dress
with the Mayor’s wife, the lively dance motifs
of No. 221 are resumed: likewise the descending
six-note scale which accompanies the entrance
of the Mayor, as all but the bride and groom
go to inspect the trousseau.
acceptance of Laca’s flowers as a token of
his love: Laca’s tenderness, his remorse for
the harm he did her and his determination
to make it up to her by his undying love and
devotion, his purging of all envious, jealous
and evil thoughts about his brother (this
triumphantly declaimed on horn, trombones
and trumpets in a long-sustained E major chord)
are faithfully reflected in the music, which
follows every subtle change of mood, thought
and action with deep psychological insight.
sincere, but never sentimental music, Jenůfa
reconciles the two brothers: it is perhaps
a little difficult to see why Števa should
take so seriously his fiancee’s teasing remark
perhaps, after all, she may change her mind
about marrying him; unless deep down his conscience
is still troubling him about Jenůfa and her
baby, although he displayed no such concern
at an earlier stage.
gentle, true-hearted and forgiving Jenůfa
assures him that Karolka is the girl for him
and she sincerely wishes them every happiness.
The music which has not deviated much from
the four-note No. 222 speeds up as the jolly
Mayor (with his descending six-note scale
in the bass) comments enthusiastically on
agitation at the sight of Števa is confined
to her voice line.
of Jenůfa’s friends, bubbling over with girlish
enthusiasm and friendly greetings, makes a
most delightful and refreshing interlude.
The three-stanza song (with its simple one-bar
rhythm accompaniment-(A) of 224 embellished
over a bagpipe drone-rather Grieg-like in
style) has all the charm and sweetness of
a Moravian folk-song, and its high-spirited
Slavonic "Hei! "at the end of each
verse gives it a most attractive uplift. (See
at first, Janáček was "accused "of
writing not only a folk opera strongly tinctured
with the Moravian folk-song spirit, which
is true, but of actually introducing folk-songs
into his opera, we have his own assurance
that "there is not a single foreign or
folk melody in Jenůfa. Even the recruiting
song and the wedding song, except for the
words, are my own." (Letter of 30 May
1916 to Dr. V. Stepan.)
are heartily congratulated on their charming
singing and they present a bouquet to Jenůfa
as the orchestra continues to repeat the simple
(A) of No. 224 with the addition of melodious
counterpoints. It even persists in the darker
key of G flat major (above solemn sustained
chords) as the bride and groom ask the grandmother
to give them her blessing.
and unexpectedly, the opera begins moving
towards its tremendous final climax.
We hear the
indignant voices of the crowd denouncing the
murderer of the child, Jano’s excited tale
of the finding of the body in the ice, Kostelnička’s
hysteria, Karolka’s distress, Jenůfa’s shock
and despair at finding her little boy dead,
and Števa’s guilty cry of remorse.
lines and the orchestral figurations are of
an extreme degree of agitation and explosive
convulsive emotion. Yet, just as Richard Strauss
said that the mind which conceived the passionate,
erotic music of Tristan was as cold as ice,
so Janáček is in complete control of all aspects
of his musical texture.
So much voice
and rhythmical excitement, so much swift action,
demands a corresponding solidity, stability
of harmony, a static background of sustained
basic harmony, if these volatile figures are
to project themselves without chaos: here
the harmonies, from the first shout in the
street, until Laca drags in Jenůfa, consist
of a series of simple, fundamental triads;
a dominant seventh over F (for three bars),
a dominant seventh over F (for eight bars),
a dominant thirteenth over G (for four bars)
and an E major triad (for nine bars), dissolving
into a diminished seventh above E which-with
embellishments-persists for another twenty-nine
scheme is equally simple as the excitement
on the stage mounts with the people screaming
that Jenůfa, the murderess, should be stoned,
Laca defending her vigorously against the
threatening mob, etc.; the action on the stage
and the emotional tension grows and increases
to an almost unbearable pitch of excitement,
which ceases immediately when the commanding,
authoritative, figure of Kostelnička calls
her confession in an unaccompanied recitative
made all the more impressive after the massed
vocal and orchestral ensembles which precede
monologue, where the proud and high spiritual
authority in the village makes her terrible
confession, humbles herself before the people,
begs forgiveness from her stepdaughter, to
find catharsis and peace in submitting to
her lawful punishment, is one of the greatest
and most moving scenes of its kind in modern
notable is the touching scene at  when
Jenůfa raises up her stepmother, saying that
she has already suffered enough pain and suffering,
and the equally touching passage, when the
stepmother knows that no longer can she expect
her beloved Jenůfa ever to call her mother
again  to .
C major chord at the end of the scene almost
suggests that Heaven itself has granted forgiveness.
of the lovers could so easily be an anti-climax.
Janáček avoids this by beginning the duet
very softly in a gentle, swinging, 9/16 rhythm
with lulling harp arpeggios
lines are lyrical and eloquent and Jenůfa’s
final surrender-"Oh! Laca, my heart;
Oh come! Oh come! Love led me to you, that
great love which God smiles down upon us"-is
heartrending in its serenity and uplift.
adds an exultant coda to finish a masterpiece
of realism, naturalism and verismo, which
is rightly claimed-for dramatic tension and
musical spontaneity - without equal in the
annals of Czech opera.
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