What's On

Leoš Janáček (1904)

This intense story of love, jealousy and sacrifice is by turns harrowing, heart-wrenching and starkly tragic.  It took Janáček ten years to complete his first great opera, and in the final year of its composition he witnessed his own daughter’s painful illness and early death.  His soul-piercing score is laced with the suffering caused by this event.

Tom Cairns returns to direct a production acclaimed for its beautifully simple staging and sheer emotional power.  A world-class cast includes Susan Bickley (Waltraute, Götterdämmerung) as the Kostelnička and Elizabeth Sikora (Salud’s Grandmother, La vida breve) as Grandmother Buryjkova.  In the title role is the Swedish soprano Ylva Kihlberg, who gave a memorably powerful performance as Emilia Marty in The Makropolus Case for the Company in 2012. 

Sung in English with English titles
Lasts approximately 2 hours 45 minutes

Pre-show talks

Mon 26, Wed 28 Oct; Wed 4, Wed 11, Wed 18 Nov
6.15 - 6.45pm

Tickets FREE but must be booked in advance. Click here to book or to find out more

Jenůfa in a Moment

Join us for this interactive introduction to the opera.

Wed 14 Oct 6.30pm, Wed 4, Wed 11 Nov 2.30pm

Click here to book or find out more

Book Your Tickets

No future performances are planned for this production.


Click on the venue below to plan your visit.

Leeds Leeds Grand Theatre 22 - 28 Oct 2015 7:15pm
Contact Details
46 New Briggate

Box office: 0844 848 2720

Enjoy 20% off your bill at Sandinista (Cross Belgrave Street - New Briggate) on presentation of your Opera North ticket when placing their food order. To book a table call 0113 305 0372. Food is served till 10pm through the week with final orders at 9pm Friday and Saturday. Only valid on the day of the performance their ticket is for. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer. 

Important Information

The theatre is easily accessible by public transport. It is approximately 10 minutes walk from the main bus station and 15 minutes walk from the train station with many buses stopping in the immediate vicinity. For the most up to date information on local bus and train times, please check WYMetro. There is also a taxi rank outside the theatre although we recommend booking a taxi in advance, particularly on a Friday or Saturday evening.

Parking is available at various nearby car parks, including Edward Street/Templar Street and the St John's and Merrion Centre shopping malls. A limited amount of on street parking available near the theatre is free after 6pm but this does tend to fill up very quickly.

Newcastle Theatre Royal 4 Nov 2015 7:15pm
Contact Details
100 Grey Street
Important Information

Box office: 08448 112121


Free Parking in all City Council multi-storey carparks after 5pm.

The two closest car parks to Theatre Royal are the Oxford Street multi-storey (just behind the Laing) and the Dean Street multi-storey. Click here for more info.

There are two parking spaces for blue badge holders on Shakespeare Street and three on Hood Street. Most parking meters are free to Blue Badge Holders.


Alight at Monument Metro Station and follow the signs for the Theatre Royal. We are less than one minutes walk from the Metro entrance on Grey Street.

Travel free on the Metro with your theatre ticket (up to two hours before and after the performance) - simply retain your theatre ticket for inspection by Metro Staff.


The Theatre Royal is only ten minutes walk from Newcastle Central Station.

Salford Quays The Lowry 11 Nov 2015 7:15pm
Contact Details
Pier 8
Salford Quays
M50 3AZ
Important Information

Box office: 0843 208 6000 

There is a passenger drop-off point immediately in front of The Lowry. Secure parking is available in The Lowry Outlet Mall multi-storey car park. There are designated areas for disabled parking on every level. 

The Lowry is accessible by train, tram and bus. http://www.tfgm.com/

From national railway stations, Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria you can travel to The Lowry by Metrolink tram. You can board an Eccles line tram and should alight at Harbour City, or Media City UK for trams which stop there, as this is slightly closer.

More info: http://www.thelowry.com/plan-your-visit/getting-here/

Nottingham Theatre Royal 18 Nov 2015 7:15pm
Contact Details
Theatre Square
Important Information

Box office: 0115 989 5555

By Car

Follow signs for the city centre and the 'Royal Zone'. Nearest car parks are Talbot Street car park and Crowne Plaza Hotel car park on Wollaton Street.
For maps and information about on-street parking, off-street car parks, park and ride and the blue badge scheme please visit Parking In Nottingham

By Bus

For bus times call Nottingham City Transport on 0115 950 6070, Traveline on 0871 200 2233 or visit www.travelineeastmidlands.co.uk   Find out about our £1 return bus ticket here.

By Tram

 The 'Royal Centre' tram stop is directly outside the venue and runs every 10 minutes until midnight. There are five Park and Ride sites along the route. Visit www.thetram.net or call 0115 942 7777 for full details of the tram route. Find out about our £1 return tram ticket here.

By Rail

Nottingham Station is a 15 minute walk or a short taxi or tram ride from the venue. Call 0845 748 4950 or www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times and fares. 


What you say

Comment from Mark pi B


Mark pi B said ago

Ted puts very eloquently what I felt. The flat text and the lack of engaging music left me almost completely uninvolved and it seemed to take a long time to tell a dreary and trite story.The only character that I felt any sympathy for was Laca the hard-done-by brother in the first act, but even then it was impossible to believe that everyone would be so horrible to him and not realise why he had a chip on his shoulder. And even the orchestral music was pretty unmemorable apart from the wonderful climax near the end.The only redeeming features were the splendid singing of David Butt Philip and Susan Bickley, the latter proving so impressive that she got the biggest ovation despite playing a bigoted and unlikeable character.

Comment from Ted


Ted said ago

I usually enjoy and praise Opera North productions, but this time I have reservations. The individual parts were good and better but the whole did not add up. The staging, costumes, music, singing and acting were all of a high quality, with some outstanding performances – and yet I was not engaged. Maybe that was my fault, maybe it was the direction, maybe it was the opera itself. If the music follows the speech patterns of Moldavia then the music was done no favours by the flat, prosaic English translation – though the running text and programme notes were indispensable to understanding anything at all. The characters lacked the depth to engage one’s emotions. We were back with Baroque Opera as performance, or, rather, forward with post-Romantic opera. Perhaps the century of Romantic opera between Beethoven and Puccini has spoilt me but Tragedy needs to draw on all the emotions, not least sympathy, to have its cathartic effect. I could not help contrast this work with its exact contemporary – another opera about an abandoned woman and her illegitimate child (Madama Butterfly) – to pinpoint what for me were the failings of this opera, or its direction, or me. Opera North needs to be adventurous, to look beyond the canon of favourites and explore operas beyond the popular taste, and I am sure the evening with Jenufa must have been good for me and my education, but I am afraid the experience left me cold.

Comment from Nicholas Dobson


Nicholas Dobson said ago

Strong psychological meat which once I became tuned in to the sombre musical and dramatic mindset of the piece became a robustly satisfying experience. Excellent performances as usual from both singers and orchestra. A pity though that the less heroic characters received some (presumably ironic) boos at curtain call since all the performers certainly deserved unalloyed applause.

Comment from simon


simon said ago

The music and story of Jenufa are so strong that it is hard not to do an effective performance. Certainly the music and singing were strong in this production. But I think it could have been so much more effective if the performers had not been asked to do silly things. One of the ways the story works is to suggest people are caught into tight spaces, caught into fate, so it doesn't help when they walk through walls and through apparently locked doors. They also suffer from guilt induced by their religious devotion, so it doesn't help when a statue of the Virgin Mary gets carried about like a vase of flowers. And since when did lynch mobs wave chairs in the air? This would have been so much more effective if it were spared from direction that was reprehensibly stupid.

Comment from roger.


roger. said ago

This is just fantastic teamwork at the highest level. If there were a county championship for Opera, ON would stand besides Yorkshire County Cricket Club at the top.The attention to detail in every aspect of production and pride and pleasure in their work, embraces the audience in a way few companies know how.We -the audience- feel part of the company. Yorkshire pride without complacency.

Comment from Simon Harries


Simon Harries said ago

I went to see Jenufa last Saturday with our 3 grown up daughters, none of whom really know anything about Janacek. I was amazed by their response. The sheer dramatic intensity of the score, beautifully performed as always, gripped them from the first minute and they were utterly enraptured by the end. I have loved this opera right from the start but am always stunned to discover anew how supremely well-structured it is and how totally gripping the experience of taking part can be. Utterly wonderful evening which reminds me again how lucky Leeds is to have a world-class company performing glorious musical theatre in its midst. My only disappointment? There should not have been a single free seat. How can I help you to sell out every time? You certainly deserve to.

Comment from bryan.thomas1@ntlworld.com


bryan.thomas1@ntlworld.com said ago

Absolutely brilliant. If you have not seen it book now before it is too late.

Comment from Barrie Hooper


Barrie Hooper said ago

Overall performance good wonderful climax
Orchestra overpowering in some places particularly with sopranos
Scenery simple but complimented singers and alowed our imagination to be stimulated

Comment from Bob


Bob said ago

I came with my wife and daughter who had heard no Janacek opera before and we all loved it. It is a fabulous and very moving opera and the production brought out the strength and humanity of the Kostelnicka (sorry no accents!) beautifully. The orchestra was on top form and there were no weak links in the cast - almost entirely beautifully sung. A great shame the house wasn't full.

One minor quibble - the curtain at the end was about 5 seconds too early: those in the upper seats were deprived of Jenufa and Laca's finally shared tenderness.

Comment from Nigel Hunt


Nigel Hunt said ago

This was one of the best Opera North productions I've seen for some time. Very powerful singing and the staging design and sets were superb.

Comment from mms


mms said ago

Firstly, Opera North should be praised for the courage to stage an opera not frequently encountered. It would be extremely sad, and a great loss, if opera companies only produced the standard 'warhorses' in an attempt to ensure full houses as a result of drastic cuts in Arts Council funding. In this light it was both disappointing and worrying that the first night was somewhat sparsely attended.
Opera North has developed a strength in Janáček opera but in Jenůfa faced a major, and unavoidable difficulty in the libretto, Janáček's own. I am sure that Kraus and Downes made a valiant attempt in the translation used here but there is no escaping the fact that the script is dreadful, in places laughably so. The story is little better: would a woman attacked and wounded by a knifeman so readily forgive her assailant? If you cannot accept that, the plot of the opera falls apart.
The script, or possibly this interpretation, led to other inconsistencies. At a central point, whilst Jenůfa sleeps alongside her baby. Jenůfa's mother removes the baby. On waking, what mother, other than Jenůfa, would not immediately notice that her child was missing? But the absurdity does not end there. Jenůfa next walks into her mother's room. On attempting to return to the room in which she had been asleep, she finds the very door through which she has just entered to be locked, claiming her mother locked the door when she left. Has the mother super-natural powers? Can Jenůfa walk through a locked door in one direction but not the other? More importantly, did the director consider this point?
Nevertheless, there are positives. Firstly is the music itself, especially the orchestral writing, with sections of the opera standing comparison with late works such as the Sinfonietta. The work also sheds light on the way Janáček develops Czech opera, with roots in Smetana and Dvorak clearly visible but Janáček's individual style ever present.
Nor should the staging, and especially the lighting, be overlooked. Sets are simple but effective; well worth noticing but never taking one's concentration away from the work.
The actual performance was not to the best standards achieved by Opera North. Orchestral intonation left something to be desired on more than one occasion. Although orchestral forces were not massive, there is nevertheless a considerable brass section and insufficient care had been taken to ensure an appropriate balance between soloist and accompaniment. David Butt Philip gave an excellent performance as Lasca, having no problems being heard above the orchestra and with outstandingly clear diction. Susan Bickley had the strength of voice as Kostelnička but with less clarity. By contrast, Ylva Kihlberg struggled with some of the part of Jenůfa: I formed the impression that the role did not lie comfortably within the natural range of her voice, raising questions about the company's casting procedures.
So, a worthwhile experience of mounting the sort of work I believe regional opera should be undertaking but a performance with a number of flaws.

Comment from Dennis Warick


Dennis Warick said ago

A most enjoyable evening, with a wonderful cast and a good story to tell. Orchestra marvellous especially the violins and timpani.

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Additional Information

  • Jenůfa Ylva Kihlberg
  • Kostelnička Susan Bickley
  • Grandmother Elizabeth Sikora
  • Števa Buryja Ed Lyon (ex 11, 18 Nov)
  • Števa Buryja Daniel Norman (11, 18 Nov)
  • Laca Klemeň David Butt Philip
  • Foreman Dean Robinson
  • Karolka Daisy Brown
  • Mayor Jeremy Peaker
  • Mayor’s Wife Claire Pascoe
  • Maid Beth Mackay
  • Barena Sarah Estill
  • Jano Frankie Bounds (ex 26, 28 October)
  • Jano Tom Kelly (26, 28 October)
Creative Team
  • Conductor Aleksandar Marković
  • Director Tom Cairns
  • Set & Costume Designer Tom Cairns
  • Lighting Designer Wolfgang Göbbel
  • Choreographer Aletta Collins
  • English translation Otakar Kraus & Edward Downes

My First Concert: Aleksandar Marković


My First Concert is a series of blogs that delve into the childhood experiences that forged some of the Nation’s most exciting musicians and conductors into a career in classical music. Here, Serbian conductor Aleksandar Marković shares is story.

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