Káa Kabanová and Il Turco in Italia, Glyndebourne Festival Opera Review
With the removal of Covid lockdown limitations just in time for the season to begin as planned, Glyndebourne has made a magnificently stunning start to its Festival.
They clearly faced problems, both artistic and financial, with social distancing regulations being enforced during rehearsals and the opera house being allowed to operate at half-capacity, but based on their first two operas, they have risen magnificently to the challenge of giving the highly appreciative audience productions that are fully up to their very high standards.
First, we were treated to Káa Kabanová, a sad but musically brilliant piece by Leo Janáek about domestic agony.
Káa is caught in a bad marriage, but it is his mother Marfa, an unpleasantly overbearing rich widow, who is the actual culprit, not her husband Tichon.
Marfa blackmails Tichon into putting humiliating and confining limitations on Káa, but she flees to have an affair with Boris. Her guilt, on the other hand, is too much to bear, and the story ends tragically.
All four principal characters are magnificently sung, particularly soprano Kateina Knková in the title role, which she portrays with a breathtaking combination of exquisite voice and flawless emotional devotion.
Katarina Dalayman, a Swedish mezzosoprano, provides a chillingly effective performance as Marfa, while Damiano Michieletto, an Italian director, brings out the best in acclaimed British singers David Butt Philip (Boris) and Nicky Spence (Tichon).
Under the direction of Robin Ticciati, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, slightly diminished by social distance limits, gives a great performance of Janáek’s highly emotive work.
Janáek, like Wagner, is one of those composers who does not allow the audience to disrupt the action by clapping the arias, allowing the conductor and singers to retain the tension. This is handled by Ticciati with impressive authority.
The work by Michieletto cleverly uses suspended cages to represent Káa’s claustrophobic predicament.
The singers occasionally appear in these cages, which sometimes contain angelic characteristics from Káa’s visions, and one of the cages contains a massive rock, which I assumed represented her deepest fears and sentiments.
The breaking free of this rock may have served as a warning that those sensations could no longer be suppressed.
The number of cages grows until they all crash to the stage at the end. Of course, this was dramatic, but I found it all to be rather. “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”