Preloader Operavision
Erik Berg / The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet
20.12.2018 at 18h00 CET
Thursday, December 20, 2018 - 18:00

Teatro di San Carlo

Káťa Kabanová

Some birds of a feather can never flock together

Operas | Janáček

With her husband away on business, a lonely wife dares to find love outside the home. Racked with guilt, she soon finds that freedom has its price.


Religious moralism, family tensions, alcoholism and suicide are just a few of the elements that make up this powerful and extraordinary story. Czech soprano, Pavla Vykopalová, sings the title role in this production by Willy Decker, who sets Janáček’s opera in a claustrophobic world of black and pinstripe wool.

Sung in Czech

Subtitled in English, French and German available soon with possibility of auto-translation into 114 other languages.

Available from
20.12.2018 at 18h00 CET

Available until
19.06.2019 at 23h59 CET

Káťa KabanováPavla Vykopalová
Tichon Ivanyč KabanovLudovit Ludha
Marfa KabanováGabriela Beňačková
Boris GrigorjevičMisha Didyk
Savël DikojSergej Kovnir
VarvaraLena Belkina
KudrjásBoris Stepanov
ChorusChorus of Teatro di San Carlo
OrchestraOrchestra of Teatro di San Carlo

MusicLeoš Janáček
ConductorJuraj Valčuha
DirectorWilly Decker
Set DesignerWolfgang Gussmann
Costume DesignerWolfgang Gussmann
Lighting DesignerHans Toelstede
Chorus MasterGea Garatti
DramaturgKlaus Bertisch

Act I

In the small town of Kalinov on the banks of the Volga, the chemistry professor Kudrjás enjoys a sunny afternoon outdoors. He wants to share his feelings with Glaša, Kabanov’s servant, when they are interrupted by the merchant Savël Dikój. Kudrjás asks Boris, Dikój's nephew, how he can bear his uncle’s aggressive attitude. Boris replies that he obeys him only because he and his sister would otherwise be disinherited, due to the terms of his mother’s will. Glaša gossips about the Kabanovs with another servant. According to Kudrjás, the matriarch of the Kabanov family is very generous to beggars but treats the servants terribly. Boris takes courage and confesses that he is in love with a married woman who is approaching at that very moment. Kudrjás tells him to be careful, as it could harm to the woman in question.

The villagers return from church, among them the Kabanov family: Kabanicha, the matriarch; her son, Tichon; his wife, Káťa; and their young foster-child, Varvara. Kabanicha reproaches Tichon for being less affectionate than he once was. When Káťa gently points out that she loves her mother-in-law, Kabanicha snaps at her for meddling in things that do not concern her. Káťa enters the house and Varvara shouts at Tichon for not defending his wife.

In one of the rooms in the house, Káťa and Varvara are busy sewing. Káťa expresses the desire to escape from her life of monotony – since her marriage everything has changed for the worse. She confesses that she is haunted by strange thoughts and desires that keep her up at night. Tichon prepares to leave for Kazan, and Káťa treats him with exaggerated politeness. She begs him not to leave, or at least to take her with him. Worried that something terrible will happen, Káťa begs Tichon to let her swear that she will not see or speak to any stranger while he is away. He flatly refuses but then Kabanicha orders him to prohibit his wife from seeing other young men, admonishing Káťa for having thrown her arms around Glaša as if he were her lover.

Act II

The three women in the Kabanov household are busy sewing. Kabanicha scolds her daughter-in-law for the indifference she showed to Tichon when he left. Once the old woman has left, Varvara tells Káťa her plan – she has got hold of the key to the garden gate, replacing it with another one so that Kabanicha does not notice. She has prepared two beds in the garden and that very night the two of them are to sleep there. If Varvara sees Boris, she will tell him to come to the gate. Káťa is extremely agitated but makes up her mind to accept her destiny.

Kudrjás sings a song while waiting for Varvara at the garden gate. Boris also arrives and tells him he is meeting a young girl. Immediately understanding the situation, Kudrjás warns him once more. Boris waits with growing excitement until Káťa finally arrives, falls into his arms and confesses her love for him. Varvara assures Kudrjás that Kabanicha will not bother them and that Glaša is keeping watch. The two couples surrender to their love. When it is time for them all to take their leave, Kudrjás and Varvara sing joyously while Káťa is overcome with conflicting feelings.


Two weeks later in a derelict building on the Volga, Kudrjás and his friend Kuligin are taking shelter from a violent storm. A large crowd soon follows them. Dikój also arrives in search of shelter afraid that the storm is a punishment sent by God. Just as it is beginning to abate, Varvara arrives in search of Boris. She is afraid that Káťa is on the verge of confessing everything to Tichon and Kabanicha. Káťa suddenly arrives, and Kudrjás tries to calm her by singing a song. Varvara tells her to pray, and Káťa falls on her knees. But when her husband and mother-in-law arrive she confesses that while Tichon was away she spent every night with Boris.

As night falls, Tichon and Glaša look for Káťa in an isolated spot near the Volga. Tichon declares he still loves her, though his mother would prefer to see her buried alive. Having suffered at the hands of Kabanicha, Kudrjás and Varvara decide to flee to Moscow. Káťa appears and wants to see Boris for one last time before she dies. The thought of the night with its darkness, songs and sounds fills her with terror. After silently holding her in his arms, Boris tells Káťa that his uncle has decided to send him away to work in Siberia. Káťa asks him to give generously to any beggar he meets on his long journey there. Once she is alone, she throws herself into the river. Many people hear the noise and come running, including Tichon. He tries to reach her but is held back by Kabanicha. When he accuses her of being responsible for the tragedy, she promises to deal with him when they get home. Dikój carries Káťa's cold and lifeless body up on to the bank. With great coldness, Kabanicha thanks those present for their kindness.