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Leos Janácek: Kátia Kabanová
Karita Mattila (Kátia), Oleg Bryjak (Dikoj), Miroslav Dvorský (Boris), Dalia Schaechter (Kabanicha), Guy de Mey (Tichon), Gordon Gietz (Kudrjáš), Natascha Petrinsky (Varvara), Marco Moncloa (Kuligin), Itxaro Mentxaka (Glaša), María José Suárez (Fekluša), Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Real, Chorus and Symphonic Orchestra of Madrid, Jirí Bĕlohlávek (Conductor), Peter Burian (Choir Master), Robert Carsen (Director), Robert Carsen & Peter van Praet (Lighting Designers), Patrick Kinmonth (Sets and Costume Designer), François Roussillon and Toni Hajal (Television Directors)
A stage production of The Flanders Opera
Filmed at the Madrid Teatro Real (December 2008) – 108’ (Bonus supplement: 24’)
fra Musica Ref #: FRA003 (distributed by harmonia mundi) – Blu Ray DVD – 16/9 Anamorphic – Dolby digital stereo/DTS 5.1 – Booklet in Spanish, English, French, German and Italian – Subtitles available in Spanish, English, French, German and Italian

Those familiar with Teatro Real’s 2008 Fidelio or The Met’s 2007 Eugene Onegin will see trademark Robert Carsen surfacing once again in this Flanders Opera production of Kátia Kabanová. This time the Volga River is extracted abstractly covering the entire stage. On it appears a series of wooden planks, cleverly arranged by a corp of identically dressed “Kátias” to transmogrify each scene. It is visually stunning. The objective is a minimal landscape of water as the predominate theme (a representative continuum of birth, life and death), allowing a fortified accent on Leoš Janácek’s music to support the ensuing psychological turmoil.

Robert Carsen teams up with Peter van Praet in lighting to distill the drama and inconspicuously meld the acts together without interruption. Likewise, the forever changing prism of earthy grays and blues that dominate the sky and water coalesce beautifully with Patrick Kinmouth’s somber yet appropriate 1930s style clothing.

On stage, Finnish native Karita Mattila delivers a captivating portrayal of Kátia, deeply drawing herself into the woman’s troubled soul; we’re mesmerized by her internal torment and moral struggle. The remaining actors serve as a stalwart anchor: from Dalia Schaechter’s petulant Kabanicha, to the naiveté of Natascha Petrinsky as Varvara to Miroslav Dvorský’s cantankerous Boris. Each of the cast member’s voices are comfortably situated within Janácek’s notes which allows for intensified character development.

In Kátia Kabanová, Janácek calls for specific instruments to convey an object or mood, and the Symphonic Orchestra of Madrid masters the score with punctuated excellence. Conductor Jirí Bĕlohlávek’s Czech roots lie close to the composer’s homeland, yielding greater intimacy with the opera and add more heft.

A 24 minute supplement immediately follows featuring interviews with Robert Carsen and Jirí Bĕlohlávek. The extended clip provides historical insights into Kátia Kabanová and their intended interpretation.

Once again, François Roussillon and Associates demonstrate meticulous attention to detail. This multi-layered Kátia Kabanová will keep you riveted to your chair from start to finish. Intelligently crafted, this production is a five star.

Christie Grimstad




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