Janáček Opera of National Theatre Brno

author Leoš Janáček

conductor Ondrej Olos

director Robert Carsen

scene Patrick Kinmonth

costumes Patrick Kinmonth

The licence owner is Opera Vlaanderen, Antwerp/Ghent.

The premiere of the production of Káťa Kabanová by National Theatre Brno’s Janáček opera ensemble was one of the highlights of the last festival. Now it is returning so that Janáček´s genius can again meet on stage with one of the best living opera directors, Robert Carsen, whose productions excel in their distinct poeticism, dramaturgical tightness and emotive, lively and immensely impressive theatre. His work has appeared in the repertoire of the most important opera houses worldwide, such as La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London, along with England’s Glyndebourne festival. Káťa Kabanová is one of Carsen´s five productions of Janáček´s operas, originally created for the Flemish Opera. It has been performed in more than 20 opera houses around the world since its premiere, which is not surprising as the production, with its impressive set in which the whole stage is covered by water which mirrors Káťa´s emotions as well as her tragic end, is one of Carsen’s best works.

When Janáček started thinking about Ostrovsky´s drama The Storm as a theme for his new opera, his sixty-fifth birthday was coming close. During the last three years, many things had changed in his life; he had finally gained international recognition and had got to know Kamila Stösslová in Luhačovice in the summer of 1917, a lady who was a source of inspiration for his most significant works. It isn´t surprising that he chose a theme from Russian literature like The Storm, which was close to Janáček’s heart due to its tragic theme of a main heroine, Káťa, oppressed by social conventions. Janáček created the libretto himself, using the Czech translation of The Storm, but he altered the original significantly, reducing the number of characters and acts, and focusing mainly on the drama around the main heroine. He thus created one of his most intimate works. Janáček assigned the first performance and thus world premiere to National Theatre Brno, where the opera was performed at the Na hradbách theatre on 23rd November 1921. It met with extraordinary success, being performed in Prague one year later and shortly afterwards also abroad.

Patricie Částková