The Cunning Little Vixen

The "Fox" Project

Benjamin Beck's transcription of The Cunning Little Vixen was born under the form of a musical tale based on Janáček’s eponymous work, which he arranged and rewrote for viola, piano and narrator. It is a dreamlike performance that blurs the boundaries of the musical genre, where sublime music and fantastical storytelling at times follow one another, and at other times intertwine.

the cunning little vixen, viola, arrangement, janacek
Lilit Grigoryan (piano), Maxime Pacaud (narrator) & Benjamin Beck (viola) performing his transcript

The show consists of 17 musical excerpts from the original opera, transcribed for viola and piano and a rewriting of the libretto staged for a narrator/actor. Words and sounds answer and complement each other: the music describes the unspeakable, like a wordless ode to the beauty of nature, while the actor gives substance to the story to tell us a memorable fable, a universal tale about love and freedom. Caught up in the intense theatrical action, the listener soon gets completely immersed in the story.

In the Moravian forest, we meet Sharp-Ears, an intelligent and emancipated vixen, who likes to play tricks on humans and eat chicken. At a very young age, she is kidnapped by Bartos, the forest ranger, who takes her to the farm. Sharp-Ears grows up there, always ready to steal food and defy the authority of the rooster and the humans, until she becomes an adult and escapes. She then steals a burrow from an old badger in the forest and has many more adventures, before tragically dying to protect her family. Her story seems to be over, but a few months later, Bartos meets a daughter from Sharp-Ears, who strangely resembles her…

 

musician, viola, Benjamin Beck

There is a beautiful alternating and contrast in this story between the human scenes, full of melancholy and increasingly aware of the time passing, and those involving nature and animals, carefree and experiencing time as if it were an infinite loop. One of the greatest strengths of this story is the absolute sincerity of the emotions of the characters, both human and animal, making the music even more expressive and touching. The emotions furtively and intensely pass by, neither exaggerated nor dramatized, and always supported by the music with infinite compassion.

The show requires three artists: a violist, a pianist and an actor; a piano as an instrument, and a small table and a chair as scenic elements. The entire performance lasts one hour and five minutes without a break. Thanks to our bilingual French-German actor, we perform in both languages. The format of the show is ambitious and innovative: shorter and more compact in its realization than an opera, it retains all of its impact and depth. It is lively, attractive and easy to share. Its ideal form as a bridge between the arts brings a new audience to experience and love classical music and performances off the beaten track.

The project was supported during its conception by the Ateliers Medicis, an institution dependent on the Ministries of Culture and Education in France. To this extent, it was developed in parallel with an educational project in a primary school and given once in 2019 for the children and the village of the school, where it received an overwhelming response from both the children and their parents.

Our Little Fox, a project driven by the reunion of three recognized, enthusiastic and experienced artists with different backgrounds, is an adventure, a daring tale and a precious moment to share. It combines the absolute beauty of a masterpiece, artistic excellence, and accessibility amplified by its rare nature of being a bridge between the arts. These multiple qualities make it unique and unforgettable.

musician, viola, Benjamin Beck

A project supported by: