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Kabanicha


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(Janáček: Katya Kabanová). Cont. Full name is Marfa Ignatěvna Kabanová. She is the widow of a very rich merchant, the mother of Tichon and foster‐mother of Varvara. Katya is her daughter‐in‐law, married to the weak Tichon. Kabanicha is a sour‐natured, domineering woman, who resents her son's marriage and disapproves of Katya. On the way home from church, she accuses Tichon of showing her no respect since his marriage and tells him he should treat his wife more firmly. She urges him to travel to a nearby market and sneers at Katya's wish to go with him. Before leaving he must order his wife, in front of his mother, to respect and obey the Kabanicha, and not speak to other men while he is gone. When Katya embraces him, the Kabanicha decries her shamelessness, pointing out that this is her husband, not a lover. After his departure, she nags at Katya for not showing proper distress at her husband's absence. She is visited by a rather drunk Dikoj, who makes overtures to her but is repulsed. While she is occupied with him, Varvara and Katya slip out of the house to meet their lovers. Tichon returns and Katya, overcome with guilt, confesses her unfaithfulness to her husband and her mother‐in‐law before rushing out into the storm. Tichon goes to search for her, but as a body is seen in the river, the Kabanicha restrains him, saying his wife is not worth his efforts. The body is carried out and placed in front of the Kabanicha, who mockingly bows and thanks the people for their concern and kindness.

The Kabanicha has, superficially, a similar personality to the Kostelnička in Jenůfa, but with a difference: the Kostelnička genuinely loves Jenůfa and her actions are all governed by that love, the Kabanicha is a bitter, unloving woman, who feels her position threatened by her daughter‐in‐law and would thus do anything to humiliate the younger girl. Recent exponents of the role include Ludmila Komancová, Rita Gorr, Leonie Rysanek, Pauline Tinsley, Felicity Palmer, Eva Randová, Sally Burgess, and Josephine Barstow (previously an excellent Jenůfa). Created (1921) by Marie Hladíková.

Subjects: Opera.


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