Glyndebourne Open House

The Cunning Little Vixen

Watch Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen online for free from Sunday 23 May until Sunday 6 June.

Our free stream of The Cunning Little Vixen is now over. If you enjoyed the opera please donate to our COVID-19 appeal below.

Glyndebourne continues to face the devastating impact from the loss of revenue due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. If you enjoy this free stream, please consider donating to our COVID-19 emergency appeal.

About the opera

All the colours of the forest come to life in a fox’s tale of love, life and loss.

Young, playful and mischievous Vixen Sharp Ears disturbs the napping Forester as she chases a frog near the woods. Thinking she will amuse his children, he bundles her up and carries her home. Wilful and independent, she wreaks havoc and refuses to stay captive for long.

Inspired by a newspaper comic strip, Janáček takes an enchanting tale and turns it into a colourful reflection on the highs and lows of life and death in nature’s constant cycle of renewal. Entwining dance, mime and orchestral interludes into the storytelling, he blends folk-derived melodies with sophisticated, lushly orchestrated harmonies to create a personal and modern musical style.

Vladimir Jurowski conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Directed by Melly Still. 

The Cunning Little Vixen was captured live at Festival 2012. Sung in Czech with English subtitles. It is available on DVD from our shop..


Creative team

Vladimir Jurowski

Melly Still

London Philharmonic Orchestra

The Glyndebourne Chorus

Cast includes

Lucy Crowe

Emma Bell

Mischa Schelomianski

Sergei Leiferkus

Photos: Bill Cooper


Act I

In the forest, animals and insects dance and play. A Forester enters and settles down for a nap. A playful Vixen cub startles a frog, who then jumps on the Forester, awakening him. The Forester captures the Vixen and takes her home as a pet.

The Vixen, now a young adult, lives in the Forester’s courtyard along with an amorous old dog. Weary of captivity, she makes mischief and is tied up by the Forester. She dreams of herself as a young woman. At dawn, when the Cock crows and begins bossing his hens around, the Vixen urges the hens to rebel. She manages to trick them all, as well as the Forester, and escape to freedom.


Act II

Back in the forest the Vixen commandeers a badger’s home.

At a village inn the Forester teases the Schoolmaster about his hopeless infatuation with Terynka, a gypsy girl. When the Schoolmaster in turn taunts the Forester over the runaway Vixen, he rushes out to find her.

The Vixen follows the Schoolmaster and the Parson as they drunkenly stumble home from the inn. Mistaking the Vixen for Terynka, the Schoolmaster confesses his passion for her. The Parson laments a hopeless romance from his student days. The Forester spots the Vixen and fires two shots at her, but she escapes unharmed.

In the forest the Vixen meets a charming male Fox, and they are mutually smitten. They retire to the Vixen’s den, and soon they are obliged to marry. All the forest creatures gather to celebrate.



In the forest the Forester confronts the poacher Harašta, who boasts of his engagement to Terynka. The Forester sets a trap for the Vixen and leaves. The Vixen, the Fox and their brood of cubs emerge to play. They find the trap and mock the Forester’s ineptitude. Harašta haphazardly shoots and kills the defiant Vixen as her family scatters.

At the inn the Forester tells the Schoolmaster that he found the Vixen’s den empty. The Schoolmaster is dejected to learn that Terynka will marry Harašta that very day, wearing a new fox fur muff that he has given her.

The Forester returns to the spot in the forest where he first met the Vixen. He recalls his youth, marvels at the beauty of nature, and falls asleep, dreaming of the Vixen. A young frog reminds him of the wondrous cycle of nature.

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