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What happens in Katya Kabanova?

Katya dreams of freedom, but she is trapped in an unhappy marriage, with a cruel, controlling mother-in-law. Then, the charming Boris arrives ... Here's the synopsis of Janáček's opera, Katya Kabanova.

The story is based on the drama The Storm from 1859 by Alexander Ostrovsky.

In a small town by the river Volga, tradition and morality reign supreme. Boris, an orphan, is bossed around and bullied by his uncle Dikoj, who controls his inheritance. Meanwhile, Katya feels trapped in the Kabanov household, with her weak husband Tichon and his domineering mother, Kabanicha, who controls everyone and everything. When Tichon leaves on a business trip, Katya confesses to him that she fears succumbing to temptation while he's gone, despite Kabanicha's warnings about fidelity and domestic duties.

With Tichon away, Katya dreams of Boris, who's enchanted by her. Tichon's foster sister, Varvara, reveals her own lover, Kudrjáš, and gives Katya the key to the locked garden where they can rendezvous. Katya and Boris meet there, and despite her conscience, they become passionate lovers.

When Tichon returns and a terrible storm hits the town, Katya's emotions reach a boiling point, and she reveals to everyone that Boris is her lover. Tichon tries to find her, while Boris tells Katya that he must leave on orders from his uncle Dikoj. Initially, Katya wants to go with him, but she changes her mind, and Boris leaves. Distraught, Katya heads to the river, where Tichon and Kabanicha follow.

Photo: Boris (Ladislav Elgr) and Katya (Ausrine Stundyte) during rehearals in Grieghallen without costumes.

See interview with Barbora Horáková Joly, stage director for Katja Kabanova in Bergen.

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