My first duty at the Met next season is probably my most difficult: covering Jano the shepherd boy in Jenufa. Written by Leos Janacek, this will be my first experience with the Czech language. I have taken a look at the score, and, wow, lots of words on lots of little notes… Rather daunting!
Since Nico Castel doesn’t (yet?) have a libretto book for Janacek’s operas, I knew I’d have to suss out another source for my initial help with the language. Fortunately, the woman who will be coaching this opera at the Met was on the SFO staff last summer and stopped by this week for a visit. How convenient! I finally saw her yesterday, and she was ready for me. She had heard through the grapevine that I would be covering, and seemed happy for my success and happy to help out. I asked her what resources I should look for to help me prepare, and she offered her services: for a very reasonable fee, she will speak the text onto a tape, give me a word-for-word translation, and write out the IPA (phonetic alphabet). On another tape, she will “plunk out” my melody lines, while singing or speaking the text, I believe, and then play it again with the orchestral reduction underneath. For the entire role! Fantastic. Granted, this is a smallish role, but Jano is a chatterbox! Lots and lots of words in a language I don’t know… I have a feeling that this will be a worthwhile investment.
I’ll write some more in the fall about covering and what it means, how I’ll prepare for it, etc.. But I thought this language study deserved an early mention. Lots of “armchair work” to be done before I sit down at the keyboard!