Jenfa, still Janáek's most successful and most often performed opera, is a musical study of the social milieu. Christof Loy moves the action of Janáek's drama, revolving around the strict sacristan who drowns her stepdaughter Jenfa's illegitimate child for fear of gossip and concern for her future, to a bare white room in which the passage of the seasons is only hinted. It is the sacristan's stark prison cell where he recounts past events and takes the spectator into the story seen in retrospective.
Michaela Kaune sings the title role of Jenfa with warm soprano, her despair at her situation palpable at every moment, culminating finally in the discovery of her dead son. Jenfa's stepmother is sung by American mezzo-soprano Jennifer Larmore, who delights with her great vocal expressivity and beauty. Musical Director Donald Runnicles conducts the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, which perfectly balances the churning intensity and textural refinement.