Magazine article Opera Canada

Kat'a Kabanova

Magazine article Opera Canada

Kat'a Kabanova

Article excerpt

Covering the stage in water has become something of a production cliche in recent years. But on this occasion--Canadian director Robert Carsen's Kat'a Kabanova at La Scala on March 19--the device was refreshingly effective. In collaboration with designer Patrick Kinmonth, Carsen set Janacek's opera not just on the banks of the Volga River, but right on the river itself, with performers cautiously moving about on rickety wooden slats that criss-cross the stage. (Think of the temporary gangways that are erected on the Piazza San Marco whenever Venice floods and you'll have the general idea.) It was an apt visual metaphor for a world surrounded by water where people are deathly afraid to get their feet wet. Kat'a, of course, does get her feet wet, with disastrous consequences.

English soprano Janice Watson was well cast in the title role. While her voice is not particularly large, she projects it well, and her intonation was spot on. Her portrayal of Kat'a as both the instigator and victim of her own downfall was convincingly complex. Opposite her, as her lover, Boris, was German tenor Peter Straka. While his characterization was perhaps not so multilayered, his performance was clear and purposeful throughout, both vocally and dramatically. …

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