Along with Bedrich Smetana and Antonin Dvorak, Leos Janacek (1854-1928) forms the Holy Trinity of Czech composers. Also a musical theorist, critic, teacher and folklorist, Janacek combined a love of his native folk music and themes with an open, adventurous mind and ear that accomodated fascinating change and growth in musical styles, from early romanticism to later experimenting with atonality. Among Janacek's most interesting works is his opera, The Cunning Little Vixen. Composed in 1924, four years before the composer's death, the work is an adaptation of a popular Czech daily comic strip, and features a wide variety of animal characters. But Janacek went beyond the superficial light comedy and satire, to create a meditation on the painful cycle of life and death. In anticipation of their upcoming production of The Cunning Little Vixen, Long Beach Opera presents a Sunday afternoon celebrating the life and work of Janacek that includes Petr Kanka's documentary, In Search of Janacek, an exploration of the composer's complex character and relationships; "Passion and Obsession," a theatrical presentation based on Janacek's love letters and his turbulent menage a trois with his mistress and his wife that stars Michael York, Edita Brychta, Hellena Taylor and Sonja Berggren; a performance of Janacek's String Quartet No. 2 by the Lyris String Quartet; and a sampling of "Czech culinary treats." Czech it out.
Sun., Jan. 11, 3 p.m., 2009