Music: Czech in Chicago

Czech Composer Leos Janacek was 40 when he started his masterpiece, the opera Jenufa. He was close to 50 when he finished the work and past 60 before he found an audience that could appreciate it. In its only U.S. production—during the 1924-25 Metropolitan Opera season, three years before Janacek's death—Jenufa (pronounced Yen-uffa) was roundly panned. In recent years, European opera houses have been looking at Jenufa with fresh admiration, and last week Chicago's Lyric Opera followed suit, gave the work its first U.S. performance in 35 years.

Audiences have generally been disturbed by the sordidness of Jenufa's libretto (it hinges on...

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