Janáček is one of my favourite opera composers. When you hear his music, you know it is his. There’s a starry mysticism to his songs primed with delicate poignancy and melodic detail. His music can be emotional, deeply dramatic and dark, exhibiting a visceral quality, irrespective of the subject matter.
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Káťa Kabanová is a romantic tribute to Leoš Janáček’s young lover Kamila Stösslová. The Czech composer never failed to portray high emotions in his score writings, and his opera, Káťa Kabanová, is arguably the composer at the height of his music career. Stösslová was only 25-years-old when Janáček (then 73-years-old) had sent hundreds of love letters to her.
Interestingly enough, despite dedicating the opera to Stösslová as a token of his affection, Káťa doesn’t have a happy ending. Much to the same fate as Tosca, Cio-Cio san and, even, Tristan, a truly romantic opera, often, ends with the heroine dying, reminding its audience of the powers behind such heartrending and mesmerising music. But, we cannot credit Janáček for everything. Afterall, it the operatic voices of the soloists that evoke the deeper tragedy of Káťa’s literary influences, in this case, a play by Alexander Ostrovsky called The Storm.
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