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“The Cunning Little Vixen” at Saito Kinen Festival

by Benjamin Woodward

The Saito Kinen Festival continues to showcase opera from off the beaten track with a production of Leos Janacek’s “The Cunning Little Vixen,” conducted by festival founder Seiji Ozawa. First performed in 1924 and fashioned out of a newspaper comic strip, this breezy, bucolic fable is Janacek at his most accessible, fast-paced and filled with dance, mime and folk melodies from his native Moravia. The cast includes Canadian soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian and American baritone Quinn Kelsey.

Also check out: The Toru Takemitsu Memorial Concert XIII, a chamber-music recital that takes in the achingly beautiful “Quartet for the End of Time” by Olivier Messiaen, will likely be a treat. The Saito Kinen Orchestra will also perform Mozart’s Symphony No. 32, Takemitsu’s “Visions” and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 “Titan” under Ozawa’s baton.

The setting: A major draw card for classical-music buffs, and with programs and concerts for younger musicians, the audiences tend to be more diverse than the usual silver-haired, well-heeled crowd.

When/where: Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture. “The Cunning Little Vixen” will be performed at the Matsumoto Performing Arts Center Main Hall on Aug. 26, 28 and 31, and Sept. 2, priced ¥10,000-30,000. The Toru Takemitsu Memorial Concert is at the Harmony Hall on Aug. 23 (¥4,000), and the orchestral concerts on Sept. 6, 8, and 9 are at the Nagano-ken Matsumoto Bunka Kaikan, priced ¥10,000-23,000.