Leoš Janáček - Katya Kabanova

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January 1970

Act 1
The young teacher Kudrjas is admiring the view of the countryside and the River Volga. The peaceful afternoon is disturbed by the entrance of the angry merchant Dikoj and his nephew Boris. Kudrjas wonders why Boris still puts up with his uncle’s overbearing nature, and Boris admits that he is unhappy in Kalinovo, but has no other options. If he wants to collect his inheritance from his grandmother for himself and his sister he must, according to the will, live with his uncle and suffer all his wrongs until they are both of age. His unhappiness is further increased by his unrequited love for a married woman – Katya Kabanova. Katya is unhappy in her marriage, though, for she had grown up in a family that had surrounded her with love, but now she had a weak and alcoholic husband and a despotic mother-in-law, who mercilessly ruled over the family and detested Katya for she was jealous of Tichon’s love for her. She orders her son to go that day to the market in Kazan and reproaches him for his lack of love and respect towards her.

It is early evening in the Kaban household. Katya and Varvara are sewing and Katya is reminiscing upon her happy childhood days. She admits that she has secretly fallen in love, and the easy-going Varvara offers to be her intermediary. Tichon arrives to bid farewell to his wife before his journey. Katya begs him to swear to speak to no strangers or else to take her along. Tichon does not understand and refuses. Kabanicha watches over their farewells and on her orders Tichon humiliates Katya with an undignified reprimand.

Act 2
Kabanicha reproaches Katya for not making a sufficient display of grief over Tichon’s absence. Varvara brings the key for the garden gate which she had taken from Kabanicha so that she could visit Kudrjas. Katya hesitates, but takes the key. The drunken Dikoj goes to Kabanicha and implores her for her favour. At the back of the Kaban family garden Varvara meets Kudrjas, and at Varvara’s behest Boris comes also. Katya attempts to overcome her desire for Boris, but she finally falls into his arms.

Act 3
A severe storm is brewing over the little town. The townspeople seek shelter in the semi-derelict, burned-out monastery. Kudrjas uses the opportunity to conciliate Dikoj by talking to him about a new invention, the lightning conductor, and his idea to introduce them to the town. However, for Dikoj the storm is a sign of the anger of God and dismisses Kudrjas with a curse. Varvara searches for Boris. She finds him and tells him that Tichon has returned home and that Katya was very upset. The Kabans also shelter in the ruined building and Katya, frightened by the storm, confesses in front of everyone that he had been unfaithful with Boris. Kabanicha is triumphant. Tichon wants to forgive Katya, but she flees into the tempest.

Glasha and Tichon search in vain for Katya. Varvara is also determined to leave the family home and agrees with Kudrjas to elope to Moscow. Katya goes to the banks of the Volga having made up her mind that the only freedom from her unbearable life is death, but wishes to say farewell to Boris. He arrives with the news that his uncle has sent him to run his business in Siberia, and after his departure Katya throws herself into the depths of the Volga.

Program and cast

Production team:

Director: Calixto Bieito

Stage design: Aída Leonor Guardia

Lighting design: Michal Bauer

Costumes: Eva Butzkies

Choirmaster: Jan Bubák

Dramaturgy: Beno Blachut


In the leading roles:

Katya Kabanova: Petra Šimková

Boris Grigorievich: Peter Berger

Janáček Theatre

Janáček Theatre is a theatre situated in the city of Brno, Czech Republic. It is a part of the National Theatre in Brno. It was built from 1960 to 1965, and opened in October 1965. During its existence, the theatre has premiered around 20 operas and ballet performances.




The building of Janáček Theatre, the youngest of the buildings of National Theatre in Brno, was planned from the early 20th century. From 1910 to 1957, seven architectural competitions were held to find the best design and project of the building. Around 150 architects participated in the competitions, among them several notable exponents of Czech arts and architecture: Bohuslav Fuchs, Josef Gočár, Vlastislav Hofman, Josef Chochol, Pavel Janák, Jan Kotěra and others. The proposed designs span a wide range of architectural styles documenting the history and development of the Czech architecture in the first half of the 20th century. The styles include historicism, Art Nouveau, Cubism, modernism, Functionalism, Socialist realism and classicising Neofunctionalism.

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