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Janacek: Katya Kabanova.

It is a pleasure to report that after numerous unsatisfying productions New York's Metropolitan Opera has managed a feat roughly similar to Orpheus's in its recent productions of Rossini's Semiramide (1823) and Janacek's Katya Kabanova (1921), two relatively rare operas by extravagantly gifted but deeply opposed musical geniuses. It remains the Met's policy not to allow translations or super-titles, the absence of which for Katya especially is a real pity, given the compression and complexity of the text as adapted from Ostrovsky's famous play The Storm. Jonathan Miller directed the production; Charles Mackerras, today's reigning Janacek interpreter, conducted. Whereas Semiramide is the almost parodistic embodiment of display, Katya has the manner of a quiet chamber opera, although its material is both generally provocative in a Strindbergian sense and musically as well as dramatically a considerable challenge for orchestra and singers. The core of Janacek's vision is the conflict between Katya and her mother-in-law, Kabanicha, who represents repressive conventionality, albeit with a kind of theatricality that Leonie Rysanek, who sang the role with florid obduracy, was able to project most effectively. Katya is unhappily married to Tichon and betrays him with Boris Grigoryevich, a cultivated young visitor to the provincial Russian town Kalinov, where Katya lives.

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Title Annotation:Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, New York, New York
Author:Said, Edward W.
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:Opera Review
Date:May 6, 1991
Previous Article:Strauss, R.: Elektra.
Next Article:Rossini: Semiramide.

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