Kát’a Kabanová… Your reactions

Our acclaimed revival of Kát’a Kabanová opened this Saturday. Here’s what you and the critics had to say!

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‘While the tenors Peter Hoare and Nicky Spence lend distinction to the production, it’s soprano Julia Sporsen who takes us with her into the vortex of Kát’a’s personal hell. Trapped in a life of abuse at the hands of her husband and stepmother, the love and consolation of her life now lost to her, this emotionally naked singer draws us in to share the harrowed woman’s fate. It is a searing performance.

In this madly overstuffed summer of opera everyone will have had their favourite. This is mine.’

– ★★★★★  Mark Valencia,  WhatsOnStage

‘Taken together this is an exemplary cast… the combination of Fuchs’ intelligent direction and the exceptional team who bring the piece alive already achieve something special.’

– ★★★★ George Hall, The Stage


‘Kát’a’s torment in the second act was one of her finest moments; we feel her conundrum viscerally. Swedish soprano Julia Sporsén was fully involved in her tragic part right from the start making her demise all the more harrowing. As her husband Tichon, Nicky Spence gives a splendid reading, full of character and enabling Tichon to be a character we can understand, if not sympathise with. Her lover, Boris, is played by the tremendous, experienced Peter Hoare, making a welcome debut in Kensington, full voiced and commanding. [Anne Mason] took the role of the hateful mother-in-law of Kát’a here with superb aplomb….

…All in all, this was one of OHP’s finest evenings.’

– Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard International


‘This revival proves extremely effective as it makes good use of the space and the natural light that floods into it… Yannis Thavoris’s set seems fairly simple and yet is immensely effective…. Colin Grenfell’s lighting designs are appealing throughout….

Sian Edwards’ conducting is excellent, while all of the principals succeed in filling the large tented auditorium to good effect. From among the strong cast Julia Sporsén stands out in the title role, revealing a soprano whose fullness is matched by equally high levels of sensitivity and feeling. Peter Hoare is a convincing presence as Boris, with his striking tenor proving extremely engaging, while Nicky Spence is exceptionally strong both vocally and dramatically as Tichon. Paul Curievici and Clare Presland provide excellent support as Kudrjaš and Varvara respectively, Anne Mason is a class act as Kabanicha, while Mikhail Svetlov as Dikój provides one of the most convincing depictions of drunkenness that one is ever likely to see on an opera stage.’

– ★★★★ Sam Smith, MusicOMH


‘In the double love scene in Act 2, Sporsen’s melodic lines swelled with limitless emotion, as if simply by singing without cease her revelation and love could be made to last forever… Anne Mason was superb as Kabanicha. Her mezzo was burnished and powerful, leaving no doubt of Kabanicha’s nastiness without descending into caricature…

Fuchs controls the ending’s rapid denouement skilfully. Hypocrisy and injustice resonate with discomforting power.’

– Claire Seymour, Opera Today


‘Nervous yet intense and vividly alive even when constrained not to move, this was a remarkable performance [from Julia Sporsen] which grew throughout the evening. Sporsen has been singing lyric roles and gave a lovely fluid account of the role, but her voice had just the right amount of spinto ping to it, giving just the right amount of power….

…One of the fascinations of this production, where director, movement director and conductor were all women, was that though there was immense sympathy for the female characters the male ones had a depth to them too….

…This was very much a strong, ensemble performance creating a real sense of the intensity of Janacek’s drama.’

– ★★★★ Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill


‘This first revival proves [Kat’a Kabanova] to be one of Opera Holland Park’s most potent offerings… Fuchs’s direction never falters, and Julia Sporsén rises to the occasion in her portrayal of Janáček’s fatally imaginative, innocent and big-hearted anti-heroine. She is a fine actor who sings Janáček’s speech-inflected vocal lines with electrifying fluency, and she conveys the character’s strength and vulnerability with focused verismo…

…Sian Edwards draws some powerful, idiomatic playing from the City of London Sinfonia, and she is a natural when it comes to releasing Janáček’s fleeting tenderness and realising his extraordinary powers of musical characterisation….

…Janáček and his Kat’a have rarely been so incisively served…’

– ★★★★ Peter Reed, Classical Source 


‘Swedish soprano Julia Sporsén [is] empassioned and lyrical in the title role… Peter Hoare and Nicky Spence… [are] as impressive as ever.’

– ★★★★ Claudia Pritchard, Culture Whisper


A fine evening of operatic drama’

– David Karlin, Bachtrack



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Photos by © Robert Workman for Opera Holland Park.