A Riveting Evening
Janácek's 'Katya Kabanová',
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER
The predominant colour of Opera North's production of Janácek's Katya Kabanová (Theatre Royal, Nottingham, UK, 7 June 2007) is an oppressive grey-green. It lines the walls of the Kabanov household, in contrast to the livelier greens of the natural world outside. It is also the colour worn by Katya herself, to which her quietly red-brown hair offers a tentative defiance. This is a woman whose generous nature is being stifled, totally embodied in Giselle Allen's compelling portrayal. She uses her hands to good effect, particularly when hesitating over the key to the gate that will facilitate her assignation with her lover, Boris, and she comes near to outright panic as her husband Tichon sets off on his business trip at the end of Act 1. Above all she sings with passionate conviction, whether hesitantly surrendering to her love for Boris in Act 2 or at the suicidal end of her tether in Act 3.
From left to right: Giselle Allen (Katerina), Sally Burgess as Kabanicha and John Graham-Hall (Tichon) in Opera North's production of 'Katya Kabanová'. Photo © 2007 Richard Moran
She is perfectly counterpointed against Wendy Dawn Thompson's sympathetic, spontaneous Varvara, the free and easy sensuality of whose relationship with Kudryash (Ashley Catling) is a breath of fresh air amid the generally uptight atmosphere.
Giselle Allen in the title role of Opera North's production of 'Katya Kabanová'. Photo © 2007 Richard Moran
Copyright © 14 June 2007
Mike Wheeler, Derby UK