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Catya Catbanova

Next up at Seattle Opera is Katya Kabanova, a powerful drama by celebrated Czech composer Leoš Janáček. Today, we've enlisted some helpful cats to enact this story. Can (kitty) Katya's fragile world survive when her passions finally burst forth?

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Once upon a time, two wealthy families dominated a village on the banks of a mighty river.

The older generation, set in their traditional, autocratic ways...

The older generation, set in their traditional, autocratic ways...

...made life a living hell for the young people, who mostly all yearned to escape.

...made life a living hell for the young people, who mostly all yearned to escape.

In this small town of strict moral codes, lived a beautiful young woman named Katya.

In this small town of strict moral codes, lived a beautiful young woman named Katya.

Katya was full of passionate spirituality. Like most people in the village, her religion was at the core of her being.

Katya was full of passionate spirituality. Like most people in the village, her religion was at the core of her being.

But while her faith gave her life meaning, Katya longed for something greater in life. She dreamed of being free from her dull arranged marriage to a husband, Tichon, whom she did not love.

But while her faith gave her life meaning, Katya longed for something greater in life. She dreamed of being free from her dull arranged marriage to a husband, Tichon, whom she did not love.

Tichon, who preferred to drink his misery away, did little to protect his wife from his cruel mother, Old Kabanicha...

Tichon, who preferred to drink his misery away, did little to protect his wife from his cruel mother, Old Kabanicha...

...and her ruthlessly vicious attacks.

...and her ruthlessly vicious attacks.

Kabanicha may have been a respected elder in the community, but she treated her daughter-in-law like an inferior species: emotionally manipulating her, finding any chance to talk down to her, and complaining that Tichon gave all his attention to her.
Eric Isselée

Kabanicha may have been a respected elder in the community, but she treated her daughter-in-law like an inferior species: emotionally manipulating her, finding any chance to talk down to her, and complaining that Tichon gave all his attention to her.

Needless to say, Katya felt trapped!

Needless to say, Katya felt trapped!

The one thing that gave her hope was a young man who was also trapped in the village named Boris...

The one thing that gave her hope was a young man who was also trapped in the village named Boris...

Hunky Boris was a dazzlingly well-bred, educated urbanite. Because of an unpleasant uncle who controlled the family's finances, he, like Katya, had no options of escape.

Hunky Boris was a dazzlingly well-bred, educated urbanite. Because of an unpleasant uncle who controlled the family's finances, he, like Katya, had no options of escape.

One day, Tichon went away on a business trip, which presented the perfect opportunity for Katya and Boris…

One day, Tichon went away on a business trip, which presented the perfect opportunity for Katya and Boris…

The young man looked Katya in the eyes, and tenderly declared his love for her. While guarded at first, Katya ultimately gave in, conceding her impassioned feelings for Boris.

The young man looked Katya in the eyes, and tenderly declared his love for her. While guarded at first, Katya ultimately gave in, conceding her impassioned feelings for Boris.

But before anyone could even think about living happily ever, a wild storm swept through just two days later, showering the villagers with rain.

But before anyone could even think about living happily ever, a wild storm swept through just two days later, showering the villagers with rain.

As the lightning and thunder rolled in, Katya feared it was divine vengeance for her adultery.

As the lightning and thunder rolled in, Katya feared it was divine vengeance for her adultery.

When the storm was at its worst, everyone in the village had gathered together when they saw a panicked Katya arriving.

When the storm was at its worst, everyone in the village had gathered together when they saw a panicked Katya arriving.

Her agitation and guilt over her infidelity had reached the breaking point…

Her agitation and guilt over her infidelity had reached the breaking point…

...and she fell to her knees and confessed her crime to everyone, including her husband and nasty mother-in-law.

...and she fell to her knees and confessed her crime to everyone, including her husband and nasty mother-in-law.

Collapsing into her husband’s arms, she almost immediately tore herself away...

Collapsing into her husband’s arms, she almost immediately tore herself away...

...and rushed into the storm.

...and rushed into the storm.

Katya’s romance ended badly. But another couple was more fortunate:

Katya’s romance ended badly. But another couple was more fortunate:

With the handsome young Kudrjas, Varvara (Katya’s sister-in-law) ran off to the big city.

With the handsome young Kudrjas, Varvara (Katya’s sister-in-law) ran off to the big city.

They escaped; but Katya couldn’t. On the banks of the river, she lamented her confession and longed for an end to her suffering.

They escaped; but Katya couldn’t. On the banks of the river, she lamented her confession and longed for an end to her suffering.

Soon, Boris arrived. While he still loved her, he knew that the two of them could never be together. Besides, his uncle was sending him away.

Soon, Boris arrived. While he still loved her, he knew that the two of them could never be together. Besides, his uncle was sending him away.

Katya realized that a future for her meant to continue living at the mercy of her uncaring husband, and a truly terrifying mother-in-law.

Katya realized that a future for her meant to continue living at the mercy of her uncaring husband, and a truly terrifying mother-in-law.

Thus, she accepted her act of infidelity, owning her sin, her mistake. Crossing her arms, she jumped into the river and bid farewell to a cruel world.

Thus, she accepted her act of infidelity, owning her sin, her mistake. Crossing her arms, she jumped into the river and bid farewell to a cruel world.

Afterward, a search party came looking for Katya. While Tichon blamed his mother for Katya’s death, Kabanicha bowed deeply, again and again, thanking everyone who had gathered on the riverbank for their kindness and concern over her dearly departed daughter-in-law...

Afterward, a search party came looking for Katya. While Tichon blamed his mother for Katya’s death, Kabanicha bowed deeply, again and again, thanking everyone who had gathered on the riverbank for their kindness and concern over her dearly departed daughter-in-law...

Sorry for the messed-up ending folks, (but this is opera, after all!). THE END

Sorry for the messed-up ending folks, (but this is opera, after all!). THE END

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