402 days ago the world was completely different. Opera houses could not receive audiences, but Europe thought it was at peace. Concerns about Corona and the social consequences of the pandemic have now subsided, while calls for heavy weapons are unable to cover up the impotence in the face of the attack on Ukraine.

Damiano Michieletto cares little. His production of Janacek’s “Jenufa” celebrated its online premiere in February 2021 in the stream, after which it was not played again. Until now. The State Opera does not put in much effort to make this production a success with the public. Although Asmik Grigorian, one of the most exciting female singers of the moment, has taken on the title role and the two male leads have also been newly cast, there are no photos of the current cast. The only indication that someone has looked at the concept again is provided by the chorus. He can no longer sing from the auditorium, but is switched on from the orchestra rehearsal room. That sounds out of all proportions and from very far away.

This late public premiere breathes something deeply stepmotherly – and at least in that it is close to Janacek’s opera. His violent, guilt-ridden village community descends directly or through second, but no happier connections from old Buryjovka (boldly upright: Hanna Schwarz). Their daughter-in-law, the sexton, tries to maintain something like order and in doing so only increases the calamity that is unstoppably pouring over children and grandchildren.

How shockingly little he has to say about the title character on this icy evening is particularly evident because Asmik Grigorian has joined the ensemble for a series of five performances. The soprano from Lithuania is one of the intrepid soul seekers on the opera stage. In Michieletto’s sacrificial cult, however, she finds no way to use leverage.

The fact that Grigorian still manages to make an impression is shown by her special class: With a gently flowing voice, she sows the seeds of missing. You miss this young, unhappy woman, even though she is standing in front of you. This trick outshines every color gradient on the plastic tracks and every question as to whether the lack of interaction between the characters comes from another pandemic situation.

Simon Rattle on the podium of the Staatskapelle, who knows how much love Janacek is willing to share about his music, caused a heart in the ice during the streaming premiere. Unfortunately, it stayed with one performance, Rattle didn’t have the time in the calendar for the current “Jenufa” series. A young conductor has taken over, for whom his stand-in qualities on Unter den Linden have opened up the great world of opera. Thomas Guggeis will take over the musical direction of the Frankfurt Opera next year. The orchestra pit isn’t quite as spectacular as when he took over “Salome”, but Guggeis sets glisteningly clear, less warm accents than Rattle. It suits him that the two male lead roles surrounding Jenufa are new and lighter cast: With Stephan Rügamer as Laca and Alexy Dolgov as Steva, the vocal ideal distances itself pleasantly from Wagnerian superiority. Ultimately, the new Janacek competition in-house proves to be too strong: this “Jenufa” simply cannot match the accuracy and sympathy of “The Makropulos Case” (director: Claus Guth).