New staging of Katya Kabanova one of highlights at Janáček - Brno 2016

'Katya Kabanova', photo: © NdB-Marek Olbrzymek

The Fifth International Theatre and Music Festival Janáček Brno 2016, on until October 18, has featured more than 25 top productions on 12 stages featuring Leoš Janáček’s work. One of the most anticipated performances this year was a re-staging of Janáček’s romantic tragedy Katya Kabanova at the National Theatre in Brno, directed by Robert Carsen.

'Katya Kabanova', photo: © NdB-Marek Olbrzymek
Czech Radio’s Iveta Novotná met with the director, asking him how this production fit with others he has done in the past.

“This production was part of a whole cycle of Janáček operas that I did and this was over a period of about five or six years and then we took them to many different cities. That said, this is the first time one of our productions has been in the repertoire of this important theatre here in Brno. So for us it is very special to be able to bring a production of Janáček’s work to his home town.

“Káťa Kabanová is a very unique and beautiful work, maybe the most romantic musically that Janáček wrote, with these extraordinary orchestral interludes and this sense of longing which is in the music.

“Káťa is very alone: the house she has married into, the household, she is misunderstood and disliked by her stepmother, her husband doesn’t understand her, and her tragedy of falling in love with this man who is unable to love her, and the incredibly destructive family towards, her, make this work, a little unusual in operatic terms.”

Is this production, then different from the ones you did before?

'Katya Kabanova', photo: © NdB-Marek Olbrzymek
“Well the production has been redone for this particular theatre at the theatre’s request: so in some ways it is the same but there are differences. There are new singers, so that is changed, this theatre is different as well. Water is very important in this production and it covers large parts of the stage: this is the only theatre we have performed where that aspect is visible from every single seat. I like this theatre very much because it is both large but intimate at the same time.

“The presence of water and light are very important: you have this abstraction, this light box, and these wooden boards create spaces on the ground, which change from scene to scene. It is very minimal scenically but it is very complex to do.”