After his widely lauded staging of The Cunning Little Vixen at the Paris Opera, André Engel dives back into the oeuvre of Leoš Janáček with the tragic story of Kátia Kabanová, presented in a chamber version at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris. Soprano Kelly Hodson performs the role of the eponymous heroine, accompanied by baritone Jérôme Billy (Koudriac), Elena Gabouri (Kabanicha), and Paul Gaugler as Kátia's lover, Boris.
Kátia Kabanová is a three-act opera sung in Czech with a libretto by Vincenc Červinka, who drew his inspiration from Alexander Ostrovsky's The Storm. The story unfolds on the banks of the Volga where Kátia, a sensitive young woman, is married to the loutish Tichon Kabanov, whose mother despises her. Kátia is secretly in love with Boris and dreams of fleeing the solitude of her home and experiencing freedom and true love. One night, when her husband is away, she meets with Boris in secret, and the two lovers profess their feelings to each other. But Kátia, tormented by guilt, confesses everything to her husband—and is led by fear and shame to bring her suffering to a tragic and untimely end.
This masterwork, premiered in 1921, is a brilliant combination of Russian theatre and Romantic and post-Romantic Czech music, containing all the natural elements that Janáček loved: wind, water, storms, and an exploration of the profundity of human emotion.
Picture: © Richard Schroeder