Leoš Janaček wrote a song cycle in 22 scenes about a loving village boy. Annelies Van Parys writes an answer to this gripping story. Ivo Van Hove directs.

A series of mysterious poems about a village boy called Janik, who falls in love with the gypsy girl Zefka and gives up everything to follow her, inspired the 61-year-old Janáček (1854-1928) to write this poetic cycle of songs for voice and piano. The 22 scenes not only reflect Janáček’s despair about unattainable affection for his much younger muse Kamila Stösslová, but evolves in the approach of Krystian Lada, Annelies Van Parys and Ivo van Hove into a meta-narrative that tackles themes such as passion, exclusion and identity.

“Annelies Van Parys, an exceptional Belgian artist, has added her own compositions … and she has done so in a sublime way with an incredible amount of respect for Janácek’s music. … A very intimate performance, a miniature.”

Chantal Pattyn - Klara Radio - 12 March 2017

“One thing this production certainly has to offer, is the accompanying music composed by Annelies Van Parys. The added value is great, mysterious, beautiful. Elaborating on the existing passages for female voices, she has created full-fledged counter voices, who turn Janácek’s haunted male conscience inside out. This delivers a composition worthy of a wide audience and a long lasting life.”

Tom Janssens - De Standaard *** - 13 March 2017

“What stands out from all of this, is the way in which Van Parys has written the role of the gypsy woman. Van Parys finds a way to seamlessly entwine her style with Janácek’s style without the two coinciding. ... This flowing solo, incredibly rich in sound and rhythm and sung by the strong Zefka, proves why the future of the opera might well be feminine. On the stage, but certainly off the stage as well, at the composer’s table.”

Els Van Steenberghe - Knack Focus*** - 17 March 2017

“… an arresting confrontation with Leos Janácek, man and musician. Annelies Van Parys’ commentaries intensified the various stages in this concentrated song cycle... The tenor Ed Lyon was marvellous, both as an actor and singer. Powerful and persuasive… And also all praise to the mezzo Marie Hamard: precise, warm and passionate, and moreover a very natural presence on stage. … The only Czech member of the ensemble was the pianist Lada Valesová. She didn’t sing, but her piano-playing was masterly.”

Guido Defever - Klassiek Centraal - 5 April 2017

“The dramaturgical and scenic input by the director Ivo Van Hove, stage designer Jan Versweyveld and dramaturge Krystian Lada, the superb voices of the soloists and the enthralling performance of the music by Janácek and Annelies Van Parijs made for a successful performance of contemporary, dramatically highly-charged music theatre, in its content, but also scenically, vocally and musically.”

Toon Brouwers - Forum - Spring 2018


Location Dates Hour  
Armel Opera Festival (Budapest)
+36 1 269 3882

Opéra de Rennes (Rennes)
+33 299 78 48 68

Le théâtre de Saint-Nazaire (Saint-Nazaire)
0033 2 40 22 91 40

Anthéa (Antibes )
0033 4 83 76 13 00

Les Salins (Martigues)
+33 4 42 49 02 01