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Katya Kabanova

4–26 February 2019
Main Stage

Rising stars Amanda Majeski and Pavel Cernoch make Royal Opera debuts in Richard Jones's production of the second work in The Royal Opera's Janácek cycle.

When to see it

The Story

Kát’a is unhappily married to Tichon Kabanov, and tormented by his bullying mother Kabanicha. Her young neighbour Boris is equally tormented by his tyrannical uncle Dikoj.

When Tichon goes away on a journey, Kát’a lets Tichon's foster-sister Varvara persuade her into meeting Boris. While Varvara enjoys a tryst with her own lover Kudrjáš, Boris and Kát’a meet and fall in love. Some days later, Tichon's return plunges Kát’a into an agony of remorse.

Background

Kát’a Kabanová combines Janácek's distinctive 'speech melodies' that highlight the inflections of Czech speech with episodes of passionate lyricism and melodic beauty such as Kudrjáš and Varvara's playful folksongs, Kát’a 's ecstatic Act I monologue and her tender encounters with Boris. The score also contains many orchestral glories, including the brooding Prelude and Act III's terrifying storm. Richard Jones's production places Kát’a within a repressive and remote 20th-century community, whose small-town attitudes provoke isolation.

Kát’a Kabanová was inspired by Alexander Ostrovsky's play The Thunderstorm, a social critique of Russia's merchant class. It was part of a remarkable 'late flowering' for Janácek that also included three further operas, the Sinfonietta, two string quartets and the Glagolitic Mass. Like Janácek's earlier Jenufa, Katya is particularly noteworthy for the composer's thoughtful and sympathetic portrayal of his heroine.

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