Move aside Titanic fans, this could be the most heartbreaking story of forbidden love of all time!
Updated: Jul 14, 2019
Undeterred by the fact that both the Royal Opera House and Opera North have also presented this late tragic opera of Janáček's this February and March, Scottish Opera without a doubt produced a stunningly unique Kabanová last night which captured all of the heart-rendering action of this timeless story within the decaying bleakness of its 19th century Russian setting.
Designer Leslie Travers makes a fine Scottish Opera debut alongside director Stephen Lawless with a gorgeous industrial set consisting of moving rusted bridges, golden reeds sprouting from a rather convincing Volga river bed and an enormous, forbidding sliding factory door. The set itself with all its harsh metal panelling will almost remind young horror fans of the sets of the Hostel or Saw film franchises, but rest assured, though tragic in the end, this tale of forbidden love is far from gruesome. The palette of browns, golds and greys presented on stage are only further accentuated by Christopher Akerlind’s skilful lighting design, which casts terrifying shadows of the sinister Kabanicha and poignantly beams gold through the door of the factory, providing hope of a better life on the other side. Similarly, the rainfall employed inside the theatre in Act III provides not only a stunning visual image but also a sonic one, demonstrating in dramatic fashion impressive true extent of this creative teams craftsmanship. As we hear the sound of the water trickling down from the heavens above flowing orchestra textures masterfully commanded throughout by conductor Stuart Stratford, one cannot help but ponder the superiority of this experience over your average cinema trip. It doesn't get any more immersive than this!
"a gorgeous industrial set..."
No member of the cast fails to deliver a fine vocal performance with fine singers making an appearance in all of the supporting roles too. Ric Furman, albeit occasionally a little soft in his expression, presents a wonderfully sweet and charming tone perfectly aligned with the seductive Boris. Surprisingly, my programme tells me that soprano Laura Wilde began her musical studies on trumpet before moving to voice, yet as Katya she showcases the type of control over her voice that would have anyone believe she had devoted every day of her life to championing it. Patricia Bardon gives a spine-chilling performance as Kabanicha and seems to have mastered the necessary dominating stage presence for her sinister motherly role alongside welcome returns for Trystan Llyr Griffiths and Hanna Hipp as the excitable Vanya and Varvara, who themselves are not short on youthful charm.
All in all, a gorgeous and moving production that we frustrated young lovers may all see eye to eye with. A must-see for romantic types!
More production photographs below Credit © James Glossop: