DVD. Katia Kabanova Teatro Real (Madrid) 2008. Prod: Robert Carsen, cond: Jiří Bělohlávek. Cast: Karita Mattila (Katya), Miroslav Dvorský (Boris), Dalia Schaechter (Kabanicha), Guy De Mey (Tichon), Natascha Petrinsky (Varvara).
What more do you need to make an opera DVD than a stunningly beautiful staging, a divine heroine, great supporting cast and a superb conductor?
You do the following:
1) Hire Karita Mattila to play Katia, one of her best roles which she inhabits as no one else today. Even in her late forties, she convincingly portrays the feeling of this young woman with a sincerity that clearly moves the audience. If, she vocally may be a bit stranged in the upper range, her emotional intensitiy more than outweighs it.
2) Hire Robert Carsen, known for esthetic as well as minimalistic production. Here, the major part is played by the river Volga as the production is bathed in the most beautiful blue light, everything taking place on or in the water
3) Hire someone like Jiří Bělohlávek, who makes the score flow
4) Hire adequate supporting cast. No disrespect meant, but in Katia Kabanova, it is really Katia, who counts. Worth mentioning that Dalia Schaechter is a less ominous Kabanicha than most, but vocally fresh, not unimportant in what is often a post-retirement role for great dramatic sopranos of the past.