Katia Kabanova. Salzburg Festival 1998. Production: Christoph Marthaler. Cast: Angela Denoke (Katia Kabanova), David Kuebler (Boris), Jane Henschel (Kabanicha), Dagmar Peckova (Varvara). Conductor: Sylvain Cambreling with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. Further information here.
This Katia Kabanova takes place in an open interior courtyard in the middle of an apartment complex with nosy neighbours constantly following the action. Set in a desolate brown-grey Eastern-European environment in 30-40 years ago, obviously.
However, what didn´t really work out in Tristan and Isolde, works out rather brilliantly in Katia Kabanova. Isn´t this opera the epitome of desolate everyday life? The inability to break with conventions, even if that means to continue a loveless, desolate life is exactly what Christoph Marthaler captures in this staging.
Angela Denoke is a virtually ideal Katia for this sort of interpretation, looking and acting the part admirably apart from providing engaged, detailed singing. Which also applies to David Kuebler as Boris and Dagmar Peckova as Varvara. Jane Henschel´s Kabanicha would have made a much bigger impact had she had a stronger presence on stage.
Musically, Sylvain Cambreling provides a relative neutral and detailed reading, which I have diffictulty expressing much enthusiasm about, especially when previously exposed to the sumptuous readings of Sir Charles Mackerras.
The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):
Angela Denoke: 4-5
Dagmar Peckova: 4
David Kuebler: 4
Jane Henschel: 3
Christoph Marthaler´s staging: 5
Sylvain Cambreling: 3-4
Overall impression: 4