Káťa Kabanová

But that was not what I was going to say.

San Francisco Opera's current production of Leoš Janáček's Káťa Kabanová starts off with words projected on the scrim, from Alexander Ostrovsky's The Storm, on which the libretto of Káťa is based. This is during the overture, which could not be more than 5 minutes long. I found the staging to be quite ugly, something about it looked institutional, which in all likelihood is intentional. Especially horrid was the ending scene which had a huge metal-looking sculpture shaped like an abstract bird. This sculpture took flight just before Káťa throws herself in the Volga, which amounted to her flinging herself down into a puddle at the center of the stage. Then doctors and emergency workers came out with a metal bed that turned into her coffin, and the focus was so much on this that it took all the power away from evil mother-in-law Kabanicha's last lines of cold thanks.

The stage had a room that was moved across and around. It was even more quiet than the platform in Saint François d'Assise.

The costumes were exceedingly silly. Especially the two servant girls' costumes, Feklusha and Glasha wore fifties styled cafeteria lady dresses, black with yellow trim, and had jackets with black and yellow stripes at a slant. Also, Boris was in a jacket that was too large and of a strange light grey color that stuck out badly.

The opera was terribly brief, not even two hours long but having three acts. The libretto is not paced well, but I doubt that Janáček's music could have been interesting for any longer than two hours. The music was fairly dull, an odd mix of melodic and dissonant. The prettiest music was in the songs of Vanya and Varvara of the second scene in Act II.

Soprano Karita Mattila (Káťa) has a fine voice, clear but slightly subdued, never shrill in the least. Her movements were a bit awkward, especially when she was rocking in a chair in and when she pretends to be a bird, both in the first act. But she was very good at doing dramatic falls.

Tenor Raymond Very (Vanya) was the only other singer that struck me as having a beautiful voice. Everyone else was adequate.