Review: Opera North’s Katya Kabanova at The Lowry in Manchester*

by yeahlifestyle

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Here is the much-awaited review of Katya Kabonava, one of opera’s true masterpieces, which we had the privilege of watching last night at The Lowry Theatre in Manchester.  Featuring some of Janáček’s most beautiful music, and an amazing storyline and talented cast, I personally could not wait to watch this in person as I was drawn to the passionate tale of a heroine driven to temptation. The thought of her being trapped in an unhappy marriage and being stifled by the dynamics of a small town was intriguing.

Loosely speaking, without trying to give too much away, the story is a forbidden love story that incurs some real twists and turns, set in what seemed to be the beginning of the 1900s. The lead actress in this production by the famed Opera North, is Stephanie Corley, who plays the title role of Katya. She plays the wife of Tichon (played by Andrew Kennedy), a role which she embraces effortlessly. Her character goes through a multitude of emotions, which without skill would be hard to convey. But without casting a shadow on Corley’s performance that of Katie Bray (who plays the role of Varvara, Katya’s sister in law/foster sister in law) who is a mezzo-soprano (for us Opera novices, this is a range of singing voice and is basically the half soprano and is usually played by the performer in a secondary role – and in case you were wondering – yes did look this up!). Katie’s voice was so beautiful as it was hypnotic. I really looked forward to the moments when she sang, and to accompany this, she had amazing chemistry with her co-performer, Kudryash, played by Alexander Sprague. The chemistry between the lead Katya and her lover, Boris (played by Harold Meers) weren’t as electric but they were still able to convey the message of a passionate love affair, that had them both intertwined within it.  The whole production only lasted for one hour and 40 minutes (without an interval) so it was fast-paced and exciting throughout.

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What did we think of the show?

The orchestra had us mesmerised and the veracity of the composer meant each moment was perfectly contoured with the sound of the music. What was interesting, is in order to create this constant suspense and feeling of uncertainty the music was really fractious at times and was a sharp contrast to what was actually being sung on stage. If you weren’t feeling the performance you could almost think that the wrong notes were played to accompany the vocals, but when you immersed yourself in the performance it just allowed the story to be told through the sounds you were hearing. My only noticeable missing moment is an iconic melody within the centre of the Opera, this may not be compulsory (I am not sure what the rules are here?) but I wanted a point in the music to be able to bring home with me, however saying this, I have since listened back to the songs and they have a simple beauty to them that I can imagine listening back to in the coming months.  Katya Kabanova is a real must for someone wanting an introduction to Opera, its quick paced and electrifying, the music really captures your attention right until it’s poignant end.
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Where was the performance held?
The Lyric Theatre
Pier 8
The Quays
Salford
M50 3AZ

Here’s a little teaser of what we saw :

About Lowry

The Lowry is a registered charity committed to using visual and performing arts to enrich people’s lives. They present audiences with a diverse programme of theatre, opera, musicals, dance, music, comedy and visual art as well as events and activities to expand the horizons of audiences and artists alike.  At the heart of their work is a commitment to the local communities and young people. Tapping into the work on their ur stages and in their galleries, they offer thousands of free creative participation opportunities each year. They are passionate about nurturing talent, developing creative professionals of the future and raising aspirations.

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About Opera North

Opera North is a national opera company based in Leeds, and is a leading UK arts organisation. Rooted in the North of England, international in outlook, they create extraordinary experiences, every day.  Their award-winning work tours to theatre stages and concert halls throughout the North and beyond, including to London and major international festivals, and they curate an eclectic artistic programme of gigs, concerts, spoken word and film in the Howard Assembly Room. Their aim is to make bold, innovative, ambitious work and share it in new ways. Opera North believes opera and music is for everyone and champions diversity in artists, repertoire and audiences. Opera North Education connects with communities and inspires each generation, aiming to enhance the health and well-being of people in the communities where we work through arts participation and performance.  Opera North is grateful for the generous support of Arts Council England and Leeds City Council, sponsorship from the private sector, trusts and individuals, the Friends of Opera North, the Opera North Future Fund and the box office income from its audiences, which allows us to continue to mount our award-winning work.

Security Information for The Lowry

Your safety and security is important and The Lowry has a series of visible and discreet security measures in place 24-hours a day. All bags may be subject to security searches prior to entry to the building. As such, they would ask that you refrain from bringing large bags to the venue as this could cause delays to your admittance. Any bags larger than 30cm x 30cm x 15cm must be checked into the cloakroom at a cost of £1 per item. Please note: Anyone who declines a security search will not be admitted. If you are attending a theatre performance, please ensure that you arrive with plenty of time for these security checks to take place, particularly so if you also have to collect tickets from the box office counter, which can be very busy pre-show. Their security measures are under constant review and they reserve the right to change arrangements at short notice.

Review by: Lex Ward
You may also want to read this  :
* We were provided with press tickets in exchange for a review. All opinions are our own.

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42 comments

Cindy Batchelor March 8, 2019 - 1:24 pm

Wow. this sounds amazing! What a great show that was, I bet!

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yeahlifestyle March 8, 2019 - 1:40 pm

It certainly was Cindy, we loved watching it

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Stacie March 8, 2019 - 1:25 pm

This sounds like such a great show! I’m a big fan of opera and stage in general. I would love to see this.

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yeahlifestyle March 8, 2019 - 1:39 pm

It certainly was Stacie, so full of drama and excitement and the music was fabulous too

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Holly Southern March 8, 2019 - 7:23 pm

I haven’t heard of this one, but I love anything set in that time period. I’ve also never been to an opera, but I would love to see this one! Thanks for the in-depth review! <3

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yeahlifestyle March 9, 2019 - 4:53 pm

Your welcome Holly, thank you for stopping by and commenting

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Kumamonjeng March 9, 2019 - 3:36 am

Great review and I am glad you have included a short clip. I am so touched by the talented performance by these passionate people.

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yeahlifestyle March 9, 2019 - 4:50 pm

So glad you are, yes that video is so captivating and show a little something about the play

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Kara March 9, 2019 - 7:56 am

I have never been to an opera but would love to. This looks like a brilliant introduction to it

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yeahlifestyle March 9, 2019 - 4:29 pm

Yes it is, we enjoyed watching this Kara

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Joanna March 9, 2019 - 10:04 am

I used to love to go to the opera. I have seen many of the major international productions, such as Madame Butterfly or Othello but never an independent show. I would love to see Katya Kabanova, it sounds like a play full of emotions.

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yeahlifestyle March 9, 2019 - 4:29 pm

So glad you have seen the major productions, if you loved Madame Butterfly, you would have surely loved Katya

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Lyosha March 9, 2019 - 3:50 pm

very detailed and nicely put review. I became interested in discovering the source (because obviously I haven’t seen the play). I miss theater now

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yeahlifestyle March 9, 2019 - 4:28 pm

Hope you do get a chance to experience it as it was so wonderful to see such talented actors bringing the story to life

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John Mulindi March 9, 2019 - 8:49 pm

This looks a great show, the review is also comprehensive and brings out the details well. Thanks.

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yeahlifestyle March 10, 2019 - 11:30 am

Your welcome John, glad you did enjoy reading it

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Beth Pierce March 10, 2019 - 2:50 am

I always love reading your reviews and experiences at the theater! Thank you for sharing; I feel like I was in the theater with you!

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yeahlifestyle March 10, 2019 - 11:30 am

Your welcome Beth, glad you enjoy reading it

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Sara Welch March 10, 2019 - 2:51 am

I recently found out I have a friend taking a trip to London this spring! I will be sure to tell her about the productions you review and hopefully, she will get a chance to see it for herself!

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yeahlifestyle March 10, 2019 - 11:30 am

The one we reviewed was at Manchester Sara, hopefully your friend will be able to watch it when it tours at different locations

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Rachael March 10, 2019 - 8:22 am

I have not seen this yet but it seems like such a brilliant review that I now want to make the effort to go. There has been so many good productions on at The Lowry lately.

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yeahlifestyle March 10, 2019 - 11:29 am

Its definitely something not to be missed but like you said, lots of good shows on at The Lowry at the moment

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Heather March 10, 2019 - 3:48 pm

I’ve never been to the Opera before but I would imagine it’s amazing. I would love to go one day.

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yeahlifestyle March 11, 2019 - 9:07 pm

Hope you do, its a great experience and you would totally love this x

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Lisa March 10, 2019 - 5:30 pm

This sounds like a great performance. Truthfully, I’ve never heard of the opera before, but the story sounds fascinating and you had a great time.

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yeahlifestyle March 11, 2019 - 9:06 pm

Glad you popped by to discover more about this Opera Lisa, its surely intriguing

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Sincerely Miss J March 10, 2019 - 6:31 pm

Sounds like an amazing show! I adore going to stage shows so this review is right up my alley. Thanks for sharing.

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yeahlifestyle March 11, 2019 - 9:02 pm

Glad to hear that and your welcome

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Irina March 10, 2019 - 9:04 pm

Wow what a cool experience. Im originally from Odessa, Ukraine. I would love to see this.

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yeahlifestyle March 11, 2019 - 9:02 pm

You would certainly have loved it Irina, the production is touring so have a look at their website to see where they will be performing next

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Catherine March 10, 2019 - 10:43 pm

I always enjoy your reviews of the theatre! Another fun performance and one I wish I could see.

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yeahlifestyle March 11, 2019 - 9:01 pm

Thank you and glad you enjoyed reading this Catherine x

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Kalyan Panja March 11, 2019 - 2:40 am

The opera has come alive through your photos . I could almost visualize it.

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yeahlifestyle March 11, 2019 - 9:01 pm

So glad to hear that, a picture speaks a thousand words for sure

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Bev March 11, 2019 - 7:45 am

the story behind is so interesting. also, love the costumes, these Opera costumes are awesome, so dramatic. …did you take these picture? they look amazing.

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yeahlifestyle March 11, 2019 - 9:00 pm

The photos were provided to us by the Press Team at The Lowry

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Jane March 11, 2019 - 11:38 am

The show looks really captivating. The expressions on their faces intense and dramatic. Sounds like a great experience!

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yeahlifestyle March 11, 2019 - 9:00 pm

Yes it certainly was a fantastic experience for us, we enjoyed it

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Joy March 11, 2019 - 2:10 pm

It looks like it was such a phenomenal show. You must have enjoyed the experience. Thank you for sharing. Great post

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yeahlifestyle March 11, 2019 - 8:59 pm

Your welcome Joy, glad you enjoyed reading our review

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Allie March 11, 2019 - 2:39 pm

Your words really intrigued to know more about this opera! very well written and beautiful! Great Trailer also!

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yeahlifestyle March 11, 2019 - 8:48 pm

Thank you for your comments Allie, appreciate it

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