Katya Kabanova combines Jan?cek's distinctive 'speech melodies' that highlight the inflections of Czech speech with episodes of passionate lyricism and melodic beauty such as Kudrj?s and Varvara's playful folksongs, Katya'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 has contemporary resonance, placing Katya within a repressive and remote, modern rural community, whose small-town limitations all too easily create a destructive loneliness.
Katya Kabanova was inspired by Alexander Ostrovsky's play The Storm, a social critique of Russia's merchant class and its chauvinism. It was part of a remarkable 'late flowering' for Jan?cek that also included three further operas, the Sinfonietta, two string quartets and the Glagolitic Mass. Like Jan?cek's earlier Jenufa, Katya is particularly noteworthy for the composer's thoughtful and sympathetic portrayal of his free-spirited heroine.
Katya is unhappily married to the ineffectual Tichon Kabanov, and tormented by his bullying mother Kabanicha. Her young neighbour Boris is equally tormented by his tyrannical uncle Dikoj. He sympathizes with Katya and longs to help her.
When Tichon goes away on a journey, Katya lets Tichon's foster-sister Varvara persuade her into meeting Boris. While Varvara enjoys a tryst with her own lover Kudrj?s, Boris and Katya talk, and soon realize they have fallen in love. Over the next few days the lovers contrive several happy meetings, but Tichon's return plunges Katya into an agony of remorse.
BOOKING PERIOD: 4-26 February 2019
RUNNING TIME:The performance lasts about 2 hours 10 minutes, including one interval
LANGUAGE: Sung in Czech with English surtitles
VENUE: Royal Opera House Bow St, London WC2E 9DD