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Leoš Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen Now Available in a Version for Reduced Forces

Jun. 27, 2022

Leoš Janáček's <em>The Cunning Little Vixen</em> Now Available in a Version for Reduced Forces

Leoš Janáček's opera The Cunning Little Vixen is undoubtedly one of the most important musical-dramatic works of the 20th century. According to his own account, the composer wanted to create a parable about the cycle of life with this ‘forest idyll’. From the first moment, listeners of the work are transported into an almost breathless tension. Janáček's unmistakable musical language with its sheer overflowing abundance of motifs and themes makes the audience forget the time and at the end evokes astonishment that two hours of playing time have already passed.

Leoš Janáček's departure from the traditions of the late 19th century is already clearly evident in the tonal language and orchestration of his seventh opera. Nevertheless, he conceived the work for a larger late-Romantic orchestra with three to four wind players, as was standard in the opera houses of his time. Because of his experience with the balance between singers and orchestra, however, he actually used the full orchestra only in a few places. The rare passages in which the full orchestra is used are mainly characterized by doublings, which do not bring in any additional orchestral colors.

Watch Universal Edition's interview with editor Heinz Stolba (with English subtitles):

The challenge was to create a version for a smaller orchestration in which Janáček's original instrumentation is basically retained. The new reduced version shows that this is possible with a restriction to two musicians for each of the wind groups. With a correspondingly reduced string section, the result is that only about two thirds of the original number of musicians are needed for a performance, without even the slightest distortion of timbre or loss of volume or radiance. This long overdue version finally makes it possible for a larger number of theaters to stage this masterpiece of opera literature without having to make musical compromises or improvise.

The arrangement for a smaller orchestration is based on the current new Critical Edition of the opera by Jiří Zahrádka from 2010. The performance material for the reduced version will be available in summer 2022, and thus in time for the 2022/2023 season. As a piano-vocal score, the edition of the original version is to be used and is available at any time. Perusal scores can be ordered now.

Leoš Janáček
The Cunning Little Vixen
opera in three acts (1924)
version for reduced orchestra by Heinz Stolba (2021) -

View the score:


In addition to Heinz Stolba's new arrangement of Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen, Universal Edition has made new arrangments of various operas, allowing them to be performed by companies with smaller forces. They include:

Béla Bartók's Bluebeard’s Castle (Arranger: Eberhard Kloke)


Arnold Schönberg's Die glückliche Hand (Arranger: Eberhard Kloke)


Richard Strauss's Elektra (Arranger: Richard Dünser)

Alban Berg's Lulu 
(Arranger: Eberhard Kloke) and Wozzeck (Arranger: Eberhard Kloke)

and many others. Visit: to learn more.