Classical Music Live: Katya Kabanova Samuel Beckett Theatre, Dublin

Since it began touring in 1986, Opera Theatre Company has taken small-scale stagings to all parts of Ireland and abroad (most recently Amadigi at Buxton). The repertoire ranges from Handel to Britten, as well as to new commissions and realisations, including a couple of years ago an electroacoustic version of Monteverdi's Orfeo. Their new production of Janacek's Katya Kabanova had been maturing nicely at a number of venues across Ireland by the time I caught up with it in Dublin.

Pace and ensemble were by now nicely honed. Of the late Janacek operas, Katya and The Makropulos Case have struck me as the ones that could gain most from a scaled-down approach; in Katya, where the shortest phrases and smallest gestures count for so much, the benefits of being close to the audience in concentrated surroundings were immediately apparent. My only general complaint about an otherwise impressive reading was the way the cast responded vocally to the performing space. The Samuel Beckett Theatre is an elegant black box, but the vibrancy of its acoustic encouraged everyone to push a little too hard. In an opera where the ranges are on the high side, this became rather enervating; when the dynamic dropped to a more intimate level, the results, for instance at the magical close of Act 2, were just as impressive.

Musical values were strong throughout. Nothing can replace the chilling drumbeats of the opening nor the warmth of Janacek's string-writing, but Dearbhla Collins's piano playing was far more than a read-through of an orchestral reduction; this was a rounded, symphonic performance of Janacek's marvellous score with a sharpness of co-ordination between piano and stage that was rich compensation for the loss of instrumental colour.

James Conway's production seemed designed to do little more than tell the story; given the size of the performing space and Francis Conway's spare though highly effective set, acting as magnifying glasses, this was almost enough. The only point at which the production failed to project the drama was at the end. Katya's suicide and its brief follow-up move with appalling swiftness - establishing Kabanicha's authority over this desperate scene is never easy and on this occasion the tension that should have been there didn't materialise. This was a pity, since throughout the opera the cast were superbly attuned to their roles. James Drummond Nelson was maddeningly convincing as the hopeless Tichon, no match at all for the romantic attraction of Iain Paton's Boris, still less for Frances McCafferty's blistering Kabanicha. After a long succession of rather flimsy, virginal Katyas, Regina Hanley's reading of the title role was refreshing for its substance; her studied directness of approach quickly established the depth of her predicament. Even more compelling as a performance was Kathleen Tynan's Varvara, chillingly practical and enormously attractive vocally. Apart from the underpowered end, OTC's Katya was scaled-down opera as it should be - direct and unfussy, ready to turn limitations into advantages.

n Details of further performances: 00 353 16794962

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum