Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Janáček opera with Puccini inspiration

In February and March, 2017, Janáček's opera Katya Kabanova comes to Seattle Opera for the first time. While they may come from different composers and different places in the vast operatic universe, Katya and Cio-Cio San originate from a similar musical source. 

Did you know that composer Leoš Janáček was inspired by Puccini? In fact, his sixth opera, Katya Kabanova  is partially based on Puccini's Madam Butterfly (and a Mrs. Stosslova, 38 years younger than him and married.) He met her while on holiday with his wife in 1917. This was a one sided passionate relationship on his part which resulted in over 700 letters. She was the inspiration for additional operas as well. She never understood him or his work.

Katya, "one of my most tender works," the composer wrote,  premiered in Brno in November 1921. The score contrasts extreme beauty with fateful oppression to wonderful emotional and passionate effect. The tragic libretto portrays a woman driven to despair and a tragic fate by her husband and monstrous mother-in-law. The result is a deeply moving, intensely lyrical work, as engaging in the beauty of the vocal and orchestral writing as in its story – which also revealed the tragedy of Slavic provincial life, of which Janácek was only too well aware.

No wonder he was inspired by Butterfly. It has a similar effect.

Tickets & info: