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Thunderstorm


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AT: The Storm; Thunder A: Aleksandr Ostrovsky Pf: 1859, Moscow Pb: 1860 Tr: 1927 G: Drama in 5 acts; Russian prose S: Fictitious town of Kalinov on the Volga, Russia, mid-19th c. C: 7m, 5f, extrasKaterina (Katya) is married to Tikhon, a merchant in a small Russian town. Although they did not marry for love, all would be well were it not for the behaviour of Tikhon's mother Kabanova, a tyrannical and mean-spirited old widow. Her constant nagging drives Katya to despair, while Kabanova allows her own daughter Varvara to behave as she likes. When Tikhon has to leave on a business trip, Varvara exploits the opportunity to invite two men to a secret meeting with Katya and herself: Boris, the nephew of a miserable old merchant Dikoy, and one of Dikoy's employees Vanya Kudryash. Having stolen the key from Kabanova, Varya and Katya escape by the garden gate to spend an idyllic time of free and gentle love with the two young men. Tikhon returns unexpectedly, and as a thunderstorm gathers, Katya is forced to confess her infidelity. Her guilt and the reproaches of husband and mother-in-law drive her to drown herself in the Volga. Meanwhile Boris's uncle sends him to Siberia.

AT: The Storm; Thunder A: Aleksandr Ostrovsky Pf: 1859, Moscow Pb: 1860 Tr: 1927 G: Drama in 5 acts; Russian prose S: Fictitious town of Kalinov on the Volga, Russia, mid-19th c. C: 7m, 5f, extras

Ostrovsky grew up in the merchants' quarter in Moscow, where, as also later as a court official, he was able to observe the domestic dramas of ordinary Russian life. In particular he was fascinated by what is called in Russia the samodur, the boorish, tyrannical, and complacent figure, represented here by Kabanova and Dikoy. Because they wield unchallenged power over their unfortunate employees and relatives, they can set tragedy in motion as surely as the royal tyrants of classical drama. The result is a play combining harsh realism with the gentle idyll of the scene between the lovers (hissed at by contemporary audiences for its immorality). Jánaček wrote an operatic version, Kátia Kabanová, in 1921.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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