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<<<  <<  -- 2 --  Mike Wheeler    A RIVETING EVENING

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Sally Burgess' Kabanicha is no fire-breathing dragon. Indeed it's her icy self-composure that makes her all the more scary. She doesn't raise her voice -- she doesn't need to. John Graham Hall gives us a Tichon (her son and Katya's husband) who is consumed by anger -- with his mother, with his wife, with himself. No wonder he has taken to the bottle. Peter Wedd's Boris, by contrast, is unusually passive, both as victim of his uncle Dikoy's bullying and in quietly accepting what's happening between him and Katya. As Dikoy, Stephen Richardson storms and blusters effectively.

Wendy Dawn Thompson as Varvara (left) and Giselle Allen as Katerina (Katya). Photo © 2007 Richard Moran
Wendy Dawn Thompson as Varvara (left) and Giselle Allen as Katerina (Katya). Photo © 2007 Richard Moran

Tim Albery's production is staged in a single sweep, with no interval, which pays off in terms of enhancing the opera's dramatic intensity. It is full of neatly observed touches: at the end of Act 2 scene 1 we glimpse a closer relationship between Kabanicha and Dikoy than we might have suspected. It nails the artificiality and hypocrisy of their world perfectly.

John Graham-Hall as Tichon and Giselle Allen as Katerina (Katya). Photo © 2007 Richard Moran
John Graham-Hall as Tichon and Giselle Allen as Katerina (Katya). Photo © 2007 Richard Moran

The Orchestra of Opera North play their hearts out for conductor Richard Farnes, though occasionally there were balance problems with individual voices from where I was sitting. Hildegard Bechtler's designs and Peter Mumford's lighting complement each other perfectly. Every aspect of Opera North's production makes for a riveting evening.

Copyright © 14 June 2007 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK

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OPERA NORTH

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